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Friday, December 09, 2016

Profound ddispair in a land of plenty. In Chicago, Bodies Pile Up at Intersection of ‘Depression and Rage’ - The New York Times

Over Memorial Day weekend, when The New York Times tracked every shooting in this city, the largest concentration of them happened here, in about six square miles that make up Chicago’s 11th police district. Of 64 people shot that weekend, 16 were in this district. Three people were shot on this same stretch of Walnut Street.

The Times returned to the blocks in the 11th District where the Memorial Day weekend shootings occurred to try to better understand Chicago’s crisis of violence.

Residents along Walnut Street and at other crime scenes told of a fractured community — isolated by this city’s entrenched segregation, hollowed out by joblessness and poverty, and battered by resignation and indifference.

Here, graystone homes and brick cottages line elegant boulevards with wide, grassy medians. Garfield Park, once known as Chicago’s Central Park, sits in the 11th’s middle.

But on Walnut Street, one vacant lot has been there so long that walking paths are worn through it. Young men gather on this section of the street, and neighbors say they hear calls for “Pills!” or “Flats!”— slang for drugs — in the middle of the day.

In places like this, cycles reinforce themselves: Poverty and joblessness breed an underground economy that leads to jail and makes it harder to get jobs. Struggling, emptying schools result in the closings of the very institutions that hold communities together. Segregation throws up obstacles to economic investment. And people and programs with good intentions come and go, thwarting hopes, reinforcing frustrations while never quite addressing the underlying problems, anyway.

Into it all comes a lethal mix of readily available guns, a growing number of splintering gangs and groups, and a sense among some here that the punishment for carrying a weapon on these streets will never be larger than the risk of not carrying one.

In Chicago, Bodies Pile Up at Intersection of ‘Depression and Rage’ - The New York Times

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