Reporting Susanna Song
CHICAGO (CBS) – A violent holiday weekend in Chicago saw more than 70 people shot since Wednesday afternoon, with at least 12 of those people killed, including the city’s 200th murder of the year.
The bloodshed has prompted a local radio station to take the lead in calling for a gang truce to halt the violence on city streets.
There was no sugar coating or light-hearted jokes during a one-hour special on WVON-AM on Monday morning, as morning host Matt McGill and midday host Perri Small talked to listeners about gun violence in Chicago.
“Many of you have called for the National Guard as an extreme measure. Some of you are ready for concealed carry, and saying we’ve got to take matters in our own hand,” McGill said.
Among the victims of the holiday weekend violence was 5-year-old Jaden Donald, who was critically wounded when he was shot while watching fireworks at a park in the West Pullman neighborhood. Twenty-four-year-old Darrell Chambers has been charged with attempted murder, and ordered held without bail for allegedly shooting Jaden and two other people.
“I’m talking about talking to Darrell Chambers, knowing that he has a gun in his pocket, and saying ‘Brother you cannot do that anymore. How do we do that?” McGill said.
Small made it loud and clear over the airwaves that parents have to take their share of responsibility for violent crime.
“I say engage these young people in your communities,” she said. “Start raising your kids. You can’t blame [Police Supt. Garry] McCarthy because you raised a fool, and you’re a fool your damn self.”
Annette Freeman, whose 7-year-old son Dantrell Davis was killed by a gang member on his way to school in 1992, called in to WVON on Monday.
Her son’s death in 1992 prompted a gang truce in the Cabrini Green public housing complex.
“You say what can we do? The people that’s feeling this pain, and going through this pain, go talk to the ones that’s inflicting the pain,” she said.
Maurice Perkins was a community activist in 1992 when Dantrell was killed. He said the boy’s death shamed the African-American community and spurred negotiations among gang leaders.
Representatives met at the Urban League for four months, every week. They even reached out to gang leaders behind bars.
Perkins says the truce lasted for 18 months and the number of shootings dropped during that time. Eventually it fell apart, but a similar agreement could happen again, he says.
“You got to start somewhere,” Perkins tells CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker. “Say you got 50 gangs. If you can get seven to say, ‘I’m with it,’ then you got a nucleus for success.”
McGill said it’s time to get these conversations going.
“We want the station to take some responsibility, and say to the community, ‘Hey, we are here, we’re a partner. What can we do? How can we stop this?”
McGill said WVON would continue to host similar discussions until there’s change. He said his focus is to reach out to his listeners – the responsible ones – and push them to reach out to their children, and the young people in their neighborhoods.