Chicago, IL

Chicago Rings in New Year after Deadliest Year in a Quarter Century

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

2021 in Chicago was one of the most lethal years in recorded history, as more people died from gun violence than in any other year in the past quarter century
Two shootings in Chicago on June 26, 2021 left 1 dead, 13 injured(CC BY 4.0 News Agency

Lyndon Donaldson had once been a gang member and a drug dealer. But he was trying to make amends and help provide a better life for his families by becoming involved in the the violence prevention program Chicago CRED. His life became about making his community better, and he helped countless people turn their own lives around as well, including dozens of teens who he helped leave the gang world.

Just a few hours after Thanksgiving had ended, Lyndon was shot and killed in south suburban Dolton.

In September of last year, four year old Mychal “MJ” Moultry Jr came to Chicago with his mother from Decatur Alabama to celebrate Labor Day Weekend. Shortly after arriving the young boy was sitting calmly in a barber chair in the home of a family friend getting his hair braided.

Suddenly, a dark colored car drove in front of the building and three men got out and started shooting into the building. Two bullets went through the building, both hitting MJ in the head. He died two days later. Mychal’s mother said her only child, had just started preschool and was “so excited to go to big boy school.”

The year 2021, over 1,000 people have been killed in Cook County alone. This represents a level of violence greater than what has been seen over almost 30 years. This lethal record has mostly been the result of shootings in Chicago. Police statistics have shown that the number of children under the age of 15 shot and killed in Chicago in 2021 has increased by 18 percent.

In order to address the problem, there was a gathering in mid December of lawmakers, police officials and public health officers, whose goal was to better understand the problem during a hearing held at the Dirksen Federal Building. The hearing was led by Illinois State Sen. Dick Durbin.

The number of stories and examples of youth being killed by gun violence was alarming. US Congressman Danny Davis shared the story of losing his own grandson who died after being shot during an argument over borrowed clothing.

Community leaders are meeting and attempting to get at the root cause of Chicago's violence. Three days ago Avanii Hazzard of Teamwork Englewood met with dozens of leaders in the Englewood neighborhood in Southside Chicago. This was one of four neighborhood meetings Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot set up as part of the city’s Community Safety Coordination Center. The center was created to utilize collaborative approaches learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to address Chicago’s violence problem at the community level.

Some of the main issues repeatedly raised in these meetings were the lack of resources and funding, mental health, and the lack of coordination that exists between community organizations that together would be better able to help people having problems getting by in the community.

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Chicago, IL

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