Chicago: How did the poet Carl Sandburg put it?
HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:
He might have added, "Shooting gallery of the nation."
As she headed out the door Sunday morning, Adrianne Wilberton put on a brave face. It was time to tell one of her sons the news, and she didn't want him hearing it from anyone else.
But her composure unraveled as she walked toward the car, a barrage of neighbors hugging her on the way out of her apartment. By the time she reached the front lawn, the mother of six was in tears.
"Our son is dead! Oh Jesus!" the 57-year-old screamed, referring to her other son, Cortez, who was killed earlier that morning on Chicago's West Side. "Oh my God! Oh my God! We were just talking."
At least 33 people were shot -- six of them fatally -- Saturday afternoon through Father's Day Sunday, stretching from 94th Street and Loomis Avenue on the South Side up to about North Avenue and North Pulaski Road on the Northwest Side, according to authorities. The youngest person who was killed during one of the bloodiest weekends in Chicago this year was 16.
Shootings from Friday afternoon into Saturday left another 13 people shot, 1 fatally. The combined tally resulted in 46 people shot, and seven killed this weekend. Last year at about the same time, there were 53 people shot, nine fatally in one weekend.
The rash of violent crime came as Chicago has seen a large dip in overall homicide and shooting numbers so far this year.
When asked whether this weekend's shooting numbers cast doubt on the department's crime-fighting strategies, Chicago police spokesman Adam Collins insisted they are working, noting the city has so far in 2013 posted its lowest homicide totals in years.
Collins also reiterated a position that police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has expressed publicly throughout the year when discussing the department's crime-fighting efforts. "There's going to be good days, and there's going to be bad days, which is why we've been calling this progress, not victory," said Collins, who pointed out drops in overall crime.
I'm sure that's very comforting to the families of the dead and maimed; "good days, bad days" meh.
PR flak Collins is calling 46 people shot "progress." That simply isn't true. It will be "progress" when citizens of Chicago can poke their heads out their front door and not worry about it being shot off.
And a lowering of the homicide rate is not a big accomplishment - not when 508 people were gunned down in 2012. And the police may be speaking too soon. There's still almost 6 months to go in the year and a few more "bad days" like Father's Day weekend could make a difference in beating last year's numbers.
Obviously Mayor Rham Emanuel's gun control strategy is working to perfection; guns for the criminals and none for law abiding citizens. He will tell us that this was not his intent, but no one can be that stupid, right?
We haven't had a real heat wave in Chicago this summer yet. When it gets too hot to stay in those slummy public housing projects, the criminal element pours into the streets and tempers get short. Expect even worse weekends later this summer.