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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 23rd December 2016 > MURDER IN THE WIND

MURDER IN THE WIND

GANG-RELATED VIOLENCE HAS PLAGUED CHICAGO SINCE THE 1960S, BUT 2016 HAS BEEN THE BLOODIEST YEAR IN ALMOST TWO DECADES
TWEET REVENGE: Rico Recklezz, a rapper who joined a gang when he was 10, believes he’s given up banging for rapping, believes social media drives much of the killings, which are often sparked by petty beefs.
HOW MANY MORE? Protests over the shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald prompted Chicago’s mayor to fire the chief of police last December, but there have been more controversial shootings since.

ON A FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN MAY, JAMES, A SOFT-SPOKEN 19-YEAR-OLD, HAD FINISHED HIS SHIFT MAKING SANDWICHES AT JIMMY JOHN’S AND WAS WALKING IN CHICAGO’S BRONZEVILLE NEIGHBORHOOD WHEN HE HEARD FOUR OR FIVE LOUD GUNSHOTS RING OUT. “I LOOKED,” JAMES SAYS, “and I See my ass BLEED.”

He sprinted down State Street as one bullet pierced his arm and another flew past him and hit a woman walking out of a Starbucks with her afternoon coffee. Yvonne Nelson was pronounced dead at a hospital 40 minutes later. “She was a working-hard lady, a city worker,” says James who asked me not to use his last name because he fears more attacks. “She lost her life for nothing.” Nelson died in a nice neighborhood, a block from Chicago Police Department (CPD) headquarters, where the police had just announced the arrest of almost 100 gang members.

About a week after the shooting, James learned on Instagram that his would-be assassin was a 15-year-old affiliated with a gang called Murder Town. James was targeted because he used to run with a small crew associated with the Gangster Disciples, the city’s largest gang. “I did stuff in my past. I ain’t no perfect child,” he says. “He ain’t know me. Somebody sent him off. A little kid trying to earn some stripes.”

Nelson was the 238th homicide in Chicago this year. In early March, experts worried the total number of homicides could reach 600 in 2016, a startling increase over any year in the past decade. But the pace of the killings accelerated, and by the end of November, the city had more than 700 murders for the first time since 1998; that’s more murders than in New York City and Los Angeles combined. (Smaller cities like New Orleans and Detroit have higher per capita homicide rates.) The national murder rate, while historically low, is projected to increase by 13 percent this year— with almost half that increase attributable solely to Chicago, according to the Brennan Center.

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Donald Trump’s many business ties abroad are already jeopardizing the interests of the United States and making the president-elect vulnerable to bribery and blackmail.
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