Reported by Liku Zelleke
Chicagoans, especially in recent years, have almost become numb to the shootings and killings that have made their city one of the most notorious and dangerous places to live in, not only in the USA, but the entire world.
That was until 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee became an innocent victim of the violence he had no way of even beginning to comprehend.
No one could have expected the shocking news of a little innocent boy being specifically targeted for something he had absolutely nothing to do with.
Kirk McKinney has lived in the area, where the crime was committed, for 44 years. He said, “This caught everyone off guard. Coming home in broad daylight and you just assassinate a child. … I’ve never seen anything this violent since I have been here. Never.”
Police say that Tyshawn was lured into an alley and shot in the back and the head in what they are calling a targeted gang-related slaying.
Chicago Police Superintendant Garry McCarthy, speaking to reporters following the November 2 shooting, said, “Tyshawn Lee was murdered in probably the most abhorrent, cowardly, unfathomable crime that I’ve witnessed in 35 years of policing.”
McCarthy said the boy was targeted because his father, Pierre Stokes, was a member of a gang that was at war with another gang. So far, the police say, he is not cooperating with them.
Stokes, on the other hand, disagreed with what the police were saying about him, but at the same time, wouldn’t talk about whether or not he belonged to a gang.
Chicago’s statistics continue to be alarmingly high: this year alone, almost 400 people have been killed in the city and 2,500 people have been shot.
In the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood where Tyshawn were shot, turf wars rage over rights to control and sell drugs on a particular city block. Residents have gotten used to the people dying from being caught in crossfire, but Tyshawn’s death has deeply shocked them.
Residents like Deronce Curd believe that gangs may now be targeting children on purpose. “How can a little boy, 9 years old, defend himself? I’ve grown up in Chicago most of my life. This is just… I’m speechless to what is going on right now,” he said.
And yet, everyone is keeping silent, because of fear. Father Michael Pfleger, a church leader in the community, has even offered to relocate anyone who steps forward and talk to the police. He believes the code of silence is void in this particular case and even hinted at street-justice of days past.
“There was a code some years ago that if a person, gang member or not, killed a child on the street, they had to be worried about themselves not being killed by the street, and when they went to prison being killed, because these are things you just don’t do.
“That code has been removed. There are no boundaries,” he said.