Friday flashback: ‘Chicago’s mind-numbing numbers’


Honors student Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago murder victim.

The Chicago Police Department is in the news again. To the surprise of no one, a task force created last year by the mayor issued a report this week slamming the department for decades of discrimination and a place where racist officers have gotten away with police brutality.

The news brought to mind a 2014 Voices of August blog post by Tim Akimoff, who was then working for Chicago Public Media. In his piece, Tim talked about the awful toll of gun violence in the nation’s third-largest city.

‘When we came to work on Monday, no one had to ask what the numbers were,” he said, following a three-day holiday weekend. “We all knew 82 people had been shot, 14 fatally. Two of those were teens shot by police.

“So far 235 people have been shot and 39 killed in July in Chicago.

“It is no wonder some people have started calling it Chiraq.”

Of course, police shootings are just part of the picture. Unmitigated gang violence continues to claim both willing participants and innocent victims.

“I always wanted to work at a New York Times bureau in some war-torn city in Africa or Asia,” Tim wrote.

“I wanted to tell the stories of the victims of war, to reveal the cost of violence on the resources of a city or a region.

“Here I am in the upper Midwest, in the Second City, right smack-dab in the middle of a war zone.”

Tim has returned to Oregon and is now working for the state’s fish and wildlife department. Two years later, his piece still packs an emotional punch.

Read it here: Chicago’s mind-numbing numbers


One thought on “Friday flashback: ‘Chicago’s mind-numbing numbers’

  1. I read a quote today by Ludwig Wittgenstein. “If a lion could talk, we could not understand him.” Wittgenstein held that language is fundamentally embedded in the ways we move through and make sense of the world. The violence that I witnessed in Chicago on a weekly basis even less than a year ago has receded to a dull roar, drowned out by distance and the cognitive dissonance of having lived for a time in a place that is a literal hell for some people and now residing in the relative tranquility of the Pacific Northwest. I worry about my ability to understand the plight of Chicagoans or Syrians, when for half a year my attention has been caught up in the conflicts between rural Oregonians and city dwellers and the impacts of such conflicts on wildlife. It’s a strange thing to go from a war zone to wolf trials. My blood pressure is a little lower now that I’m no longer a journalist. My outlook is a little less bleak at times. But I just don’t want to lose my grip on the saga of gun violence and the toll it takes on lives that now seem a million miles away. I still want to understand the lion, even if it seems impossible.

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