Murder Map in New York Times shows Chicago Teachers Union was right about tale of two cities

How is it possible that a map showing where Chicago's murders take place is uncannily similar to a map showing where the Chicago Board of Education has scapegoated and closed inner city public schools since Arne Duncan began the so-called "renaissance" in 2004? And yet it is true. The destabilization of Chicago communities, denounced for more than a decade by community activists and teachers (and reported almost exclusively in Substance) has been one of the main causes why in 2012 Chicago had more murders than New York City. The situation had gotten so that even The New York Times had to report -- on the murders, not on the corporate "school reform" policies that had helped fuel them.

The New York Times opened the new year with a front page story about Chicago's murders. The story, which among other things noted that Chicago had more murders in 2012 than New York City, which has three times as many people. Inside the New York Times story was one of the most striking graphics ever published. In both the map and the story, the nation's "newspaper of record" noted that Chicago was two cities -- the world class city that Rahm Emanuel works in, surrounded by millionaires and billionaires, and the second city, where the majority of the people, mostly black and brown, live in some of the most dramatic poverty anywhere on earth.

The above map appears in the Chicago Teachers Union report "Black and White..." published in November 2012. On January 3, 2013, The New York Times published a map of Chicago murders, accompanying an article about the fact that despite the corporate propaganda coming from the city's corporate media, half of Chicago is one of the deadliest places in the USA. The map that shows the deepest concentration of school closings and charter school openings during the past 13 years could also be the map that shows the most dramatic murder rates in Chicago during the same years. Although The New York Times mapped the murders in Chicago on a map that shows almost the same density outlines as the map above, the map above shows where the Chicago Board of Education has closed real public schools and opened privately managed and unregulated charter schools, mostly in the city's black and brown communities. The destabilization of the communities has been one of the reasons why community violence has increased. The increase in violence has been predicted since the beginning of the school closings under Arne Duncan in 2004, but until recently the violence to the communities by the closing of so-called "failing" schools has been ignored by the plutocracy that rules Chicago and by the city's corporate media. One of the reasons for the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 and the battles that are growing between the teachers and their allies, on the one hand, and the plutocrats and their mayor, on the other, is the recognition that these two cities need to become one, and that the people who own and rule the city, for now, have to stop neglecting the majority of the city's people -- especially the children -- and blaming the city'steachers for the apartheid which has been created by the USA.

The findings of fact reported in the Times story are simple. Chicago is a "Tale of Two Cities." No publicity stunts by the city's mayor or propaganda assaults by the largest public relations teams anywhere (dozens at City Hall; another two dozen at the school board; all dedicated to burnishing the image of Rahm Emanuel) can hide the facts when someone actually goes across Chicago and reports the facts. "But the overall rise in killings here blurs another truth," the Times reported, "the homicides, most of which the authorities described as gang-against-gang shootings, have not been spread evenly across this city. Instead, they have mostly taken place in neighborhoods west and south of Chicago’s gleaming downtown towers."

Whether the take on Chicago that appeared on the front page of The New York Times will change the official narrative about Chicago remains to be seen. But the teachers have already spoken, and the research being provided to the nation through the corporate media.

The New York Times article follows below here:

In a Soaring Homicide Rate, a Divide in Chicago, by Monica Davey

Published in the print edition of The New York Times January 2, 2013 By MONICA DAVEY Published: January 2, 2013

CHICAGO — This city’s 471st homicide of 2012 happened in the middle of the day, in the middle of a crowd, on the steps of the church where the victim of homicide 463 was being eulogized. Sherman Miller, who was 21, collapsed amid gunfire not far from the idling hearse that was there to carry away James Holman, 32, shot to death a week earlier.

Corporate rule over Chicago's public schools has been growing since mayoral control began in 1995, but under Mayor Rahm Emanuel there has been no pretext of democracy. The members of the Board of Education and the top staffers at Chicago Public Schools are all millionaires and billionaire plutocrats with no qualifications to govern the nation's third largest school system. Above, at the November 16, 2012 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, billionaire Penny Pritzker (left), a member of the school board appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, talks with millionaire Peter Rodgers, who had just been appointed "Chief Financial Officer" of the nation's third largest school system. Prior to being hired as an educator Rodgers was Chief Executive Officer of Diners Club. There has been no public discussion of the executive appointments at CPS since Emanuel took over. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The funeral shooting at St. Columbanus Catholic Church on the South Side left neighbors fretting that no place, not even a church, felt safe any longer. “It’s become the Wild Wild West,” said Charles Childs Jr., who had watched from across the street as mourners screamed and scattered.

The shooting, on Nov. 26, was one more jarring reminder of just how common killings seem to have grown on the streets of Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, where 506 homicides were reported in 2012, a 16 percent increase over the year before, even as the number of killings remained relatively steady or dropped in some cities, including New York.

But the overall rise in killings here blurs another truth: the homicides, most of which the authorities described as gang-against-gang shootings, have not been spread evenly across this city. Instead, they have mostly taken place in neighborhoods west and south of Chicago’s gleaming downtown towers.

Already, 2013 began with three gun homicides on New Year’s Day, two of them on the South Side. Like other cities, Chicago has long been a segregated place, richer and whiter on the North Side, and the city’s troubling increase in killings has accentuated a longstanding divide.

“It’s two different Chicagos,” said the Rev. Corey B. Brooks Sr., the pastor of New Beginnings Church on the South Side, who had led the funeral service for Mr. Holman the day shots rang out, then found himself leading Mr. Miller’s funeral service a week later. The authorities here have described both shootings as gang related. “If something like that had happened at the big cathedral in downtown Chicago or up north at a predominantly white church, it would still be on the news right now, it would be such a major thing going on.”

More than 80 percent of the city’s homicides took place last year in only about half of Chicago’s 23 police districts, largely on the city’s South and West Sides. The police district that includes parts of the business district downtown reported no killings at all. And while at least one police district on the city’s northern edge saw a significant increase in the rate of killings, the total number there still was dwarfed by deaths in districts on the other sides of town, and particularly in certain neighborhoods.

The 53-page report "The Black and White of Education in Chicago's Public Schools -- Class, Charters & Chaos" was published in its final form on December 1, 2012, as Chicago was completing one of the most murderous years in the city's history. Largely ignored at first by the city's ruling plutocracy, the report found that by January 2013, the ruling class was catching up on at least part of the story. The destabilization of communities in the city's South and West side ghettos caused by the school closing policies (and the charter opening policies) that have been taking place since Arne Duncan was "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools at the beginning of the 21st Century have helped destroy the last community fabric that was holding together many of the nation's poorest communities. The predictable result has been an increase in murder, among other things, in those communities. Meanwhile, the Chicago Plan is being spread across the USA by the Obama administration. Duncan has been U.S. Secretary of Education since 2009, and Obama's former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, has been Chicago's mayor since 2011. Along the streets downtown and in neighborhoods on the North Side not far from Lake Michigan, some residents acknowledged that they had heard about a rise in the city’s homicide rate, but said it had not affected their own sense of safety. “This area is a bit of a Garden of Eden,” said Gwen Sylvain, as she walked dogs along a residential street not far from the Loop.

Others said they rarely had reason to go to the Chicago’s South or West Sides, only a few miles away, and some longtime residents said they had never once ventured to such neighborhoods. Police business on the North Side rarely seems to rise beyond an overly enthusiastic Cubs fan or a parking quibble, said Kyong Lee, who said that in the past he had, without consequence, forgotten to lock up his family’s shoe repair business.

In Back of the Yards, a South Side neighborhood near the city’s old meatpacking district, the tenor was far different. Mothers spoke of keeping their children inside from the moment school ended, and businessmen of decisions to lock the front doors of their shops during business hours. “I don’t go out at night,” said Jesse Martinez, who recalled the gun pressed to his head as he was robbed a few years ago inside the hat and boot store he has run for 32 years.

Over all, crime in Chicago dropped 9 percent in 2012 from the year before in what city officials say was the largest decrease in 30 years. Among crimes that saw dips last year: rape, robbery and car theft. With the city’s longtime gangs splintering into factions and increasing problems with retaliatory violence, homicides rose suddenly in the first three months of the year — running some 60 percent ahead of the year earlier — creating a pace that slowed significantly as the year went on.

City officials attributed the improvement to a broad anti-gang strategy that includes an elaborate police audit of gang members, removal of vacant buildings and efforts to involve neighbors. Some have called for increased gun control legislation; of 7,000 guns recovered by the Chicago police in recent months, handguns are most common, but 300 were assault weapons.

“A child shot is a child of the City of Chicago,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who lives on the North Side, said in an interview in which he addressed the long-held divisions in a city known for its endless array of distinct neighborhoods on the North, South and West Sides. “Don’t anybody think that it’s ‘over there,’ ” the mayor said. “It’s a tear on this city.”

No arrests have been made in the deaths of Mr. Holman or Mr. Miller, who died on the steps of the church that Al Capone’s mother once attended regularly and where Barack Obama distributed food to the needy just after he was elected president in 2008. The authorities say three guns were believed to be present when Mr. Miller died. The police say Mr. Miller was carrying a gun. And bullet casings from two other weapons were found on the steps.

At Mr. Miller’s funeral in December, a large contingent of Chicago police officers waited outside.

“It’s gotten to the point, unfortunately, where something as significant as a funeral is subject to gang violence, and I can’t even believe that we’re having this conversation,” Garry McCarthy, the police superintendent here, said in an interview. “I’m not willing to gamble that maybe they’re not going to bring their guns this time.”

Inside that funeral, at another church on the city’s South Side, Mr. Brooks stood near Mr. Miller’s coffin, recalling what had happened at the last funeral. “Ever since then,” Mr. Brooks told Mr. Miller’s mother, who sat before him, “my heart has been so torn.”

As friends of the deceased stepped past his framed photograph to stand at a microphone, Mr. Brooks called for peace in the church, read out his own cellphone number (in case, he said, anyone needed it), and stopped one young man from launching into a rap, for fear, Mr. Brooks said later, of what new trouble that might stir.

In a corner of the church, a friend of Mr. Miller revealed text messages he had sent to her during Mr. Holman’s funeral, minutes before he was shot: “dis preacher like he talkin straight to me,” one of the messages read. “He talkin bout hurts and pain. I cant run from the pain cause its gone hurt me worse if I’m by myself because I gotta think about everything.” In tears, she recalled how she had replied to the texts with questions, but Mr. Miller never responded.


January 8, 2013 at 1:09 PM

By: Keith Ammann


The degree of segregation and income inequality in Chicago is unconscionable. But there is no way Chicago's poorest residents "live in some of the most dramatic poverty anywhere on earth." Not even close. You can't compare life in the ghettos of Chicago to life in the slums of Mumbai, the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, the subsistence farms of Namibia, the townships of Johannesburg or the garbage dumps of the Philippines. Hysterical exaggeration does not help make the case for Chicago's children.

January 27, 2013 at 7:57 PM

By: Bob Busch

Guns, Iraq and Chicago

Each home in Iraq was allowed to have one AK47 rifle.

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