Chicago has long been the poster child for cities hammered with violent crime. Every Monday, we could run reports on just how many people got shot in the city over the weekend, just to show you how bad it can be there.
It’s a shame, too, because I actually love the city. I miss visiting it every weekend when I was stationed at Naval Training Center Great Lakes. I’ve got some great memories.
I never saw the bloody side of the city, though. I missed all that.
The Chicago Sun-Times, though, they haven’t. They want everyone to see it with a report on gun violence survivors.
We spent a year helping Chicago survivors of gun violence tell their stories in their own words
There are news stories every day of shootings, deaths and lives boiled down to a few details. Violence looks different through the eyes of those who’ve survived a shooting or lost a loved one.
By Justin Agrelo
This fall, I attended a support group for parents who’ve lost children, mostly to gun violence. The monthly gathering is hosted by Elizabeth Ramirez with the group Parents for Peace and Justice and Rincon Family Services.
Eight parents, each in a different phase of grief, attended. Some were open about their children, the lives they lived, the things they accomplished, the dreams they left waiting. Others were more reserved, choosing to listen, searching for comfort.
One woman, let’s call her C, shared something I hadn’t heard before. When her son was killed, she wasn’t ready to not be his mother, she said. Years later, she still wants to be his mother. She still is.
I included the headings because, frankly, I think they matter.
Let’s understand that so many of these are, in fact, tragedies. Regardless of the circumstances, something went wrong somewhere along the line, something that didn’t have to happen, and that makes them all tragic.
But the Sun-Times wants to make this about guns. That’s the unifying theme they put together. They got gun violence survivors’ stories to make it about the firearm itself.
Last weekend, in the Riverdale community in Chicago, a woman was found in a burning building. She’d been stabbed multiple times and then set on fire. It’s an absolutely horrific act that sounds like something you’d see in a movie or on television.
On October 16th, a 6-year-old boy was stabbed 26 times. He was reportedly killed because he was Muslim.
Less than two weeks later, a woman was killed in Chicago’s West Side after she was stabbed following an argument.
These were just three non-gun homicides I was able to find without a lot of looking. Based on the Sun-Times report, one might imagine that the survivors of these knife attacks don’t matter as much; that they’re not suffering as much as those whose loved ones were shot to death.
Yet all of these murders contain one component that’s universal regardless of weapon. They all involve someone who decided that human life didn’t matter. Every last one of them.
By focusing on the weapon used, they’re ignoring the fact that every last one of these victims was killed not by a gun or a knife but by a person.
The sooner we recognize that the issue is a people issue, not a weapon issue, the sooner we can actually start reducing all forms of murder.
Why are these stabbing victims considered less important and less troubling simply because a knife was used instead of a gun?