Gun violence in Chicago reached alarming heights over Memorial Day weekend, with tragic news that over 40 people were shot, the Chicago Tribune reports.
City officials and community leaders fear the worst, saying the heightened gun violence will only increase over the summer. Rev. Corey Brooks, a pastor at New Beginnings Church of Chicago in the city’s South Side, is calling for calm.
“If something doesn’t change, if we don’t get jobs for these kids, if we don’t change the economic situation, I’m worried that we could be looking at a blood bath,” Brooks said to The New York Times. “If something doesn’t happen, I fear that we’re potentially looking at one of the worst summers we’ve ever had.”
Among those killed this weekend were a 15-year-old girl riding in a Jeep and a man in his 20’s who was shot in his mother’s yard.
Twelve people were wounded by Saturday, one person was killed by Sunday morning and 13 people were wounded Sunday through early Monday, the Tribune reports.
The vast majority of the shootings occurred on the West Side of Chicago. Police say they promise to ramp up their presence over the weekend.
Others say it is not that simple. The mistrust of local government and city officials heightened after the release of video footage showing a 17-year-old Black teenager named Laquan McDonald being shot by police.
The mistrust may lead witnesses to withhold sharing information with the police, some say. Others feel the discontent causes citizens to seek vindication by any means necessary.
“People think that to get justice, they have to take the law into their own hands,” said the Rev. Marshall E. Hatch in an interview with The Times. Marshall is the pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, on Chicago’s West Side.
As some city officials and community members seek a resolution for the increased gun violence, police believe the rise of gangs is the cause. The Times writes that 20 shootings have occurred along Chicago area highways with no arrests in 2016.
“There’s a boiling point, and guns have become part of America’s wardrobe,” Father Michael Pfleger, an activist and priest at Saint Sabina Church, told The Times. “People out here presume everyone has one, and they’ll tell you, ‘I’m going to draw mine before I get laid down.’”