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'48 Hours’ presents the crime war in Chicago

Young schoolchildren march against gun violence in Chicago due to the death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendledon, knowing their lives may be in jeopardy.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Late last month the CBS newsmagazine “48 Hours” normally seen Saturday nights at 10/9c previewed crime in the city of Chicago.

According to the program, a six month investigation was done on why and how so much crime resided in this city. The irony about this is that Chicago has been known to be a vehicle of crime; dating back to the 1920s with the mobster Al Capone. But the shameful rate of 500 murders in 2012 now presents itself in largely black neighborhoods where the situation has been out of control. And the 27 people last month during Father’s Day weekend that were shot, two fatally.

The highlight of the program was the death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, gunned down at a park in January 2013 while under a shelter in the rain with friends. Pendleton, a teenager who was a honor student, a cheerleader and member of the debate team, had a promising future ahead of her. The news about her death went national due to her taking part in President Obama’s second inauguration festivities. The shooting took place just a mile where the Obamas have their residence.

Hadiya’s parents have been on an emotional roller coaster ride since her death. During the program they shared memories of their daughter hoping the tragedy would mean something significant to curb gun violence.

The program also analyzed the drug problem that is an epidemic in the city and gang wars that are fighting over the drug heroin. The drug has also reached the suburbs of Chicago; in which an example was shown of a white female teen who got hooked so badly on heroin her mother threw her out of the house. The girl was using the drug five times a day and stole her father’s wedding ring to support her habit. The girl has since been in rehab four times and is still trying to release herself from the drug she admitted she loved.

Many Chicagoans believed the Pendleton murder, with her attachment in the inaugural activities and First Lady Michelle Obama attending Pendleton’s funeral, put more police on the streets. It was revealed that after two days after the murder, 200 more police patrolled the streets and after two weeks, two black gang members were arrested for Pendleton’s murder.

But high profile cases such as this should not stop shortage of policemen on the streets protecting citizens, despite cries in the police department that it would cost millions of dollars. How in the world did the price escalate so high to protect urban cities – particularly those with a large black population?

48 Hours also profiled a black man who stated he was threatened with his life when he tried to stop drug dealers from selling in his neighborhood. He concluded in the interview by saying “I had to do something.”

Many neighborhoods with the majority of people of color live in fear every day because their communities are riddled with drugs, shootings and other clandestine behavior. Many times the police are seen more as a foe rather than a comrade, due to their disrespectful and racist attitudes and behavior. Communities in these situations need to contact their city officials, organize and get to know their neighbors, and form coalitions to make their areas safe for themselves and for children.

The program announced the homicide rate in Chicago has dropped 25%. But in this special and insightful report in two parts called “The Truth About Chicago’s Crime Rates” data collected by police and others involved does not always reveal true numbers. Read the report below.

PBS stations tonight will present a one-hour documentary “Al Capone: Icon” beginning at 8.

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