High school in a war zone

President Obama condemned the wave of violence in Chicago in a speech at Hyde Park Career Academy. He said “the solution is not only more gun laws, but community intervention and economic opportunity in impoverished neighborhoods.” A few hours later, the sister of a student sitting behind Obama on the stage, was shot and killed in a North Chicago alley. Janay Mcfarlane, 18, had attended Hyde Park.

Last school year, 29 current and recent students at Chicago’s Harper High were shot; eight died. This American Life looks at the violence that surrounds the high school. More than 15 gangs operate in Harper’s attendance area, reports Linda Lutton. “Boys are nearly always assigned a gang affiliation, whether they want it or not, based on where they live,” says Lutton. Many gangs don’t sell drugs. They shoot each other over “girls, ‘he said-she said’ stuff, money owed, a fistfight.”

In one story, staff and students learn at a Homecoming pep rally that a recent student was just shot a few blocks away. Principal Leonetta Sanders struggles to decide if she’s going to hold two events – the football game and the dance – while everyone’s worried about retaliation.

When a boy is tall enough — he has “hard legs” — he’s a target says a gang member in the second episode.

Harper High’s “After Action Review” team — the principal, social workers, the football coach and others — tries to contain the damage after each incident, reports Slate. Chicago school officials picked up the AAR idea on a visit to Fort Leavenworth to study military training.

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  1. So….. it’s like West Side story? You can’t say “Hey, here are all these high school kids causing trouble. Lets fix them.” and get anywhere. The change has to come earlier at the pre-school/Kindergarten level. Alternatively, we could give them all bronze age weapons, call it ‘project-based reenactment of classic literature,’ and declare that learning has occurred
    Young men fighting over territory and women– it’s a problem as old as civilization. Maybe they just need a more constructive, less destructive, way to fight.

  2. Crimson Wife says:

    Gangs aren’t just a problem in the inner city these days. I live in the ‘burbs, and the middle and high schools for which my kids are zoned have problems with gangs as well.

    I also had to stop taking my kids to a park down the road from the light rail station because there was a mid-afternoon drive-by shooting there. I had naively thought that it was safe enough during daylight but obviously not 🙁

  3. Too true, and the socioeconomic integration programs aren’t helping the suburban expansion. Also, I recently read that Chicago’s gang problem includes Hispanic gangs, most members of which are illegals. What was that old saying about providing the rope that will be used to hang you?

    • Crimson wife says:

      The gangs in my area are not necessarily filled with individuals who are themselves illegal, but they are mostly kids or grandkids of immigrants.

  4. I wonder what it would take to persuade Rudy Giuliani to move to Chicago?

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      Yes. Reducing crime and gang activity is completely achievable if sensible NYC policy is used, but, my guess; because Chicago is a wholly owned Democrat city – unlike NYC – those kinds of policies will never be attempted. It’s more likely Chicago will go full Detroit in a decade or sooner.

      My advice to Chicago residents: move to Austin, TX.

      • NYC is pushing back against what works; in this case, the stop and frisk policy. Even though it often nets guys with open warrants, parole violators and suspects in open cases, it’s being attacked on racial/ethnic grounds. Of course, those most against the policy don’t have to live in the neighborhoods where these guys do, and/or they have private security.

  5. Wherever you have Hispanics, you will have gangs. Even my dad, God rest his soul, was in the Toonerville Gang during the depression. He was white but grew up with Mexicans. Sweet people they were, but the gangs thrived there in LA. Mexican “immigrants” are migrating to cities in Kentucky, Tennessee, Minnesota, Wisconsin. The gangs go with them. Gun laws will disarm the innocent and empower the evil.