Posted on July 8, 2022

With Little Outcry, Chicago’s Bloody Weekend Eclipsed Highland Park Toll

Robert Klemko, Washington Post, July 6, 2022

No new counseling resources were announced this week on this city’s impoverished South Side, even after a man was shot to death in broad daylight, feet from a playground, days before July Fourth.

There are no crowdsourced charity drives raising millions for victims’ families in Chicago, where the holiday weekend death toll reached at least 10 with 62 injured — numbers that exceed the toll from a July Fourth parade shooting in nearby Highland Park, Ill.

In that affluent lakeside suburb, the violence was an anomaly. Here, it is a grimly regular occurrence.

“They have a lot of resources there in Highland Park,” said Bobbie Brown, 62, who watched the nationally televised law enforcement response and community outpouring from her home in the Englewood neighborhood, down the block from where the homicide near the playground happened Friday afternoon. “Ain’t that something? Our babies see people get shot while they’re at a playground, and there’s no counseling. They have to suck it up and deal with it.”

This year’s holiday violence was tame in Chicago compared with the previous year, when more than 100 people suffered gunshot wounds and 17 died, according to Chicago Police Department data.

Brown, a community activist and organizer, describes herself as the neighborhood’s “Big Mama.” She flies two American flags above the front door of her duplex. One is red, white and blue; the other — red, black, and green — is known as the Black Liberation flag. Her property is a neighborhood safe haven, she said.


Since taking office in 2019, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has significantly boosted mental health funding for communities affected by violence, announcing last month that her health department would award an additional $3.1 million to 12 nonprofit organizations to provide services across the city.


Gardner’s family doesn’t let their young children play beyond their fenced-in backyard in Grand Crossing, where the median household income is estimated at just over $29,000. Likewise for Shermiya, a 35-year-old mother of three who asked to be identified only by her first name out of safety concerns. Taking her children to a July Fourth parade — or any large gathering — in her neighborhood would be unthinkable, she said.


To her, the Highland Park television coverage served as little more than a reminder that the suburb one hour away exists in a different universe.

“It was on for hours and hours,” Shermiya said. “And it’s like, people are getting shot every day around here, around the corner, up the street. But they still don’t cover it because it’s not enough White people down here.”


Brown was likewise irked by the differences she’s observed in how Black citizens are often treated and the arrest of Robert Crimo III, the suspect in the Highland Park shooting. Officers apprehended him after a car chase Monday evening without using force.

“I didn’t see their foot on his neck,” she said. “They handled him with kid gloves. ‘Turn on over, baby.’ He ain’t dead? Where they do that at?”

To her, the poverty of the inner city and its consequences are intentional. Segregation, redlining, housing discrimination and a lack of public resources have produced a community full of vacant homes and underperforming or shuttered schools, she said. Harper High School, down the street from her home, became notorious for its lack of educational resources, crumbling infrastructure and frequent violence before it was shuttered in 2021.

Brown’s son and daughter both served in the U.S. military, she said. Hers is the only home on the block with an American flag hanging above the front door.