The BBC just released a mini documentary on Chicago’s intractable gun violence problem, featuring interviews with young black men who live around the city.
The near 15-minute piece begins with an interview with a father and Iraq War veteran who says he has to be careful of violent neighborhoods because of fear he will be mistaken by a shooter as a rival gang member. The piece also touches on some of the structural issues that have fanned the flames of violence in Chicago neighborhoods, particularly those that political pundits tend to ignore.
“I’ve never seen so many guns now than ever. It’s like somebody dropped off crates of guns in everybody’s hood, like it was designed for a motherfucker to lose,” says Bo Deal, a West Side resident.
“The police authority don’t like the way we live. We don’t actually like the way we live,” says Steve Bennefield, a resident of the South Side. “But when you’re pushed into a way of life—when you’re forced into a way of life—how else can you live?”
Unsurprisingly, the Chicago Police Department declined to comment for the story. The piece is well worth your time, but it’s also unfortunately missing the voices of any officials who have or could have had a tangible role in affecting any type of real policy changes that would help Chicago’s neighborhoods heal.
A look inside the South and the West sides from the perspective of the people who live with daily violence and tragedy would certainly be an eye-opener for those not paying attention to daily reporting from many local sources (especially people who live outside the city), but it would also do pundits and certain presidential candidates well to remember that the violence plauging the city doesn’t exist in a vacuum.We didn’t get here overnight. From the largest set of school closures in history to the decimating of neighborhood mental health care and other services, to the fact that money gets siphoned from poor neighborhoods to fund pet projects for well connected developers, this crisis has been decades in the making.
Camera/director: Darren Conway; video editor: David Botti; assistant producer Gabriella O’Donnell; aerial photography Phil Jorden; executive producers Jacky Martens and Ben Bevington
Southside Economic Development Project