From January 1 to the present, 2,331 people were shot in Chicago. That number represented 280 fewer shootings than in 2016. But violence last year reached levels not seen in 20 years. So far this year in Chicago also: 432 homicides, 18 fewer than last year.
Statistics may shock (these certainly do) but perhaps even more important, consider the human anguish that each each homicide represents. Because of the family story involved, two of those deaths by gun violence caught my eye. At 3:51 p.m., on March 30, 2017, 19-year old Maurice Harris walked up to the Nadia Fish & Chicken restaurant in the 2700 block of East 75th Street, on Chicago’s South Side. He shot and killed two men inside the restaurant. A third man was found dead outside. A fourth man’s body lay in the 7500 block of South Coles Avenue. Harris’s father, 37-year-old Jerry Jacobs, had been shot and killed the previous day, Wednesday Mar. 29, at 79th Street and South Phillips Avenue. As of this writing, the full motive is still unclear, although police theorize conflict between rival gangs. Emmanuel Stokes, 28, and Edwin Davis, 32, lost their lives. But two of the other men, Dillon Jackson, 20, found inside, and Raheam Jackson, 19, found against a tree, were brothers.
Another assault on our credulity: their mother, employed at the restaurant, witnessed their sons, the Jackson brothers’ deaths. Georgia Jackson, 72, grandmother of the two victims, said at the scene that they had gone to the restaurant to get food and to see their mother.
“It is not OK. It is not OK when we lose a child like this,” their mother said. Officers directed her and others away from her son’s body. “There’s two dead — there’s two other boys in there.” With her red apron on from her job at the restaurant, the mother pounded the hood of a blue and-white police vehicle parked across the street from her slain son.
If the Jackson boys’ mother was inconsolable, we can understand. After blaming herself, and questioning her faith, she revealed that she had nothing to live for. “I can’t go on, my life is over. I’m about to goddamn kill myself. I was standing right here in the window, they killed ’em right in front of me.”
Other than simply reporting the facts, like with many other tragedies, we are at a loss for words. What do we say? What can we say? The community rallied for an Operation Wake-up Anti-Violence rally the following week (picture). But there are no easy answers to a mother’s anguish, nor to a city’s, when one homicide statistic hits home.
[Sources: Elvia Malagon, Chicago Tribune, August 14, 2017. Kelly Bauer (//www.dnainfo.com/chicago/about-us/our-team/editorial-team/kelly-bauer) and Peter Jones (//www.dnainfo.com/chicago/about-us/our-team/editorial-team/peter-jones) | March 30, 2017 5:48pm | Updated on March 30, 2017 6:18 p.m. Peter Nickeas and Deanese Williams-Harris, Chicago Tribune, March 31, 2017. Jeremy Gorner and Peter Nickeas, “Man charged in 4 South Shore killings is son of man killed the day before, police say,” Chicago Tribune, APRIL 5, 2017. The Chicago Tribune’s Megan Crepeau contributed. Picture: Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune]