The four-day Labor Day weekend was a bloody one in Chicago that saw at least three people and dead dozens more wounded. Most of the shootings were on the city’s South Side, according to crime data.
Jalen Stogner traveled a couple of miles outside of his Englewood community with his mother and younger brother Friday to wash clothes at a Back of the Yards laundromat. He was shot dead outside the facility at 48th Street and South Ashland after getting into an argument with a man in the parking lot, according to police.
The man pulled out a gun, and Strogner tried to run away. But he was shot in the back.
The day before 17-year-old Stogner was gunned down, five people were shot in the 6000 block of South Indiana.
As Chicago Public Schools prepared to go back to school Tuesday, police confirmed that several teens were shot over the weekend. Friday a 15-year-old was shot in the 6200 block of South Rhodes and Sunday night two teens were among four who were struck by bullets when someone opened fire on a family barbecue in the 9100 block of South Chappel. Earlier that day a man was found dead of a gunshot wound in a car a block away in the 9200 block of South Chappel.
The daily shootings count has kept Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and police Supt. Garry McCarthy on their heels, continually devising and revising plans for combatting the city’s gun violence. Though the mayor points out that overall crime is down in the city, the 30 percent uptick in gun violence has dogged him and garnered a national spotlight.
Emmanuel has announced several crime fighting initiatives since the start of the year, including taking down drug dealers and gang members, whose activity is blamed for what police call the “majority” of the shootings, and giving affected communities back to its law-abiding residents.
Several of the weekend’s shootings happened on Friday, the same day the mayor marked a milestone in his crime fighting plan. Emmanuel said at a press conference that the city was set to demolish the 100th building under another initiative that involved tearing down vacant buildings the city identified as community hazards and havens for criminal activity.
“By demolishing these buildings, we are preventing them from serving as hubs of illegal activity and eliminating a blight on our communities,” Emmanuel said.
The mayor has also placed some convenience stores, gas stations and restaurants – including a South Side McDonald’s – in its crosshairs, preparing to take action against businesses the city said contributes to drug and gang activity.
The prevalence of gun violence has kept community leaders marching throughout the summer on the South and West Sides. One stalwart in that effort has been Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Catholic church in the Auburn-Gresham community.
He galvanized other faith leaders earlier this past spring after six people were shot – one fatally — outside a liquor store.
“These stores like this are pimping the community. They’re street offices for the gangs,” he said.
The outspoken priest and community activist has said the gun violence isn’t curbed it will “devour us.”
Rev. Roosevelt Watkins led youth from his church on a peace march down Cottage Grove Avenue in the Chatham community last month. The pastor of the Bethlehem Star Baptist Church and dozens of youth walked from the church, at 9231 S. Cottage Grove Ave., to nearby Leak & Sons funeral home at 79th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. He told the youth outside the funeral home that he didn’t want them to prematurely end up there and called for tougher gun control.
“Yeah (people) have a Second Amendment right, we understand. But the Second Amendment came about when the British were coming. But the British are not coming. So we need to put a ban or stronger, common sense gun laws in place,” Watkins told the Chicago Citizen.
The summer’s shootings, which saw a 7-year-old gunned down near her home after selling snow cones and candy, caused the mayor to establish and bankroll a partnership between the gang intermediary organization CeaseFire and the Chicago Police Department. Tio Hardiman, head of the Chicago chapter of the organization, defended his organization after it came under scrutiny following announcement of the partnership.
“We all need to get past our differences and get these homicides under control in Chicago before we reach an all-time high,” he said.
With the weekend shootings, the city is well on its way to hit that high sooner than later.
By Rhonda Gillespie