508 Chicago School Students Shot in 16 Months

WBBM-TV (Chicago), March 10, 2009

Twenty-five Chicago Public School students have been murdered this year. As shocking as that number is, there is another figure that’s very disturbing as well: the number of students who have been shot in a 16-month period is enough to fill an elementary school–508 students, according to school officials. CBS station WBBM-TV in Chicago’s Chief Correspondent Jay Levine asks why, and what is being done to stop it.

Think about it. By this time tomorrow, odds are at least one Chicago Public School student will have been shot. By this time next week, there’ll be seven. It’s a staggering, frightening, shameful statistic that judging from the reaction we got, those who could do something aren’t anxious to talk about.

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Chicago Public School students are relatively safe until they leave school, but after that, the closer to home, stats show, the more dangerous it is.

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An alternative to drugs, guns and violence is an after-school program at the Bethlehem Star Missionary Baptist Church where virtually every one of the kids have been touched by that violence.

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“My uncle got shot right in front of our building, while we were playing basketball. I was kind of scared ’cause he was a family member, and I didn’t want him to die,” said 14-year-old Davell Jackson. “I was kind of frightened that I could have got shot too.”

“My cousin, he was driving, and somebody shot at his car, and he flew out the window and he was killed,” said 13-year-old Alvin Howard.

Not far from the church, on Friday night, an 18-year-old CPS graduate was shot and killed. It was just weeks after his 17-year-old brother was among three young men murdered by an alleged gunman just recently acquitted of murder–within view of a police blue light camera, which anonymous officers on the Internet claim are all too often being used to replace a shrinking force of street cops.

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“There’s a fear in the neighborhood because the people fear retaliation,” Pastor Watkins said. “We need to go back to the old school way where we had neighbors knowing each other, building neighborhood block clubs.”

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