Chicago Police Sergeant: “Tribal Warfare” on the Streets

Dean Reynolds, CBS Evening News, July 11, 2012

Chicago is in the grips of a deadly gang war. At least 275 people have been killed in the city so far this year and many more have been shot, many of them innocent bystanders to the gang violence. Among the latest victims were 12- and 13-year-old girls shot Tuesday night. They survived.

Sgt. Matt Little leads one of the teams in Chicago’s Gang Enforcement Unit. There are about 200 such officers in the city—versus 100,000 gang members.

“Almost all the violence we’re seeing now is from the gangs,” Little said. {snip}

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“The gangs have lost their hierarchy, so to speak, and without a chain of command, there’s really nobody keeping things in check,” Little said. The leaders are mostly in prison—or dead. Those left are young, reckless, and often terrible shots.

“Instead of a bullet with somebody’s name on it, we have a bullet that reads ‘To whom it may concern,’ ” Little said. The result is a spate of shootings that have killed or wounded young children, even toddlers.

The victims include 7-year old Heaven Sutton, at left, shot to death selling candy outside her house. {snip}

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Sgt. Little is a decorated veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He said that parts of Chicago are comparable to what he saw in combat.

It’s “tribal warfare,” he said, “and as it continues to build unless we manage to interdict it, and manage to stop it long enough for the blood to stop boiling, the heat to die down.”

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