Wednesday, October 10, 2012

News and Maps on Gang-related Homicides

Given my last post was about gang violence in my neighborhood, I would be amiss to not mention WBEZ's interactive gang map and accompanying article, of which most of this post is derived from. 

I actually wasn't that impressed with the interactive map portion of the post- which used Google Maps so it's fine I guess but for the lack of detail. The accompanying PDFs, however, were perfect. 

I had no idea there were that many gangs in the 17th Police district.

(You can figure out your police district here, and the entire PDF where I took these altered WBEZ screenshots from here.)

I knew vaguely of the Latin Kings and the La Familia Stones "territory" but I was quite ignorant to what was happening west of Kimball. (I was always under the impression it was more dicey than my section, though!)

What surprised me the most was how prevalent the Latin Kings are on the other side of the river this far up North, too.

The WBEZ post also pinned all homicides this year on a Google map, and listed two for Albany Park. 

19-year-old Nicholas Camacho, a Harold Washington student, made headlines "as the first murder of the year." He was killed by a bullet to the back of the head while he was sitting in a car.

 He and his friends had been peeing in an alley when they were approached by men flashing gang signs. 

Wrong place, at the wrong time, they all said. 

His obituary is here.

Then there is the death of 58-year-old Celestino Nuevo, who died a day later after being punched in the face. 

From the WBEZ interactive map, which took data from Tracy Swartz's fantastic homicide map over at the RedEye, I learned of Shadow's name.

19-year-old Andre Ephrame died on 9/15/11 at 10:30 p.m.

 I also learned that 21-year-old Eric Mendoza - killed in 2009 - is the young man the people on Troy still leave that memorial for. His news item is here.

The WBEZ data isn't complete though - as made apparent by RedEye's- because there was another homicide this year: 19-year-old Sameer Barakat was killed while walking with his father at night at 2:45am. His killing was just as senseless as Camacho's, and his news item is equally as tragic

While studying the RedEye homicide map of Albany Park, I came to a stunning conclusion. There have been more homicides in my section of Albany Park than the rest of the neighborhood. Beat 1713 has the most homicides, WTF!? It is actually safer West of Kimball!?

I blame Big Red. 

RedEye's homicide map is also incomplete, because it does not list the man that died when I first moved here. According to the map, 20 people have been killed in Albany Park since 2007.

It's nice to see all that data visualized in a way that I can use, but the WBEZ post was troubling in that it made me wonder why the CPD hadn't done something like this before. In fact, I snorted at this part:

"The department only makes that information public through maps in a hardbound volume called The Gang Book, published by the Chicago Crime Commission."
The CPD has a good reason for not making this information readily accessible.

CPD Chief of Organized Crime Nicholas Roti called such data a "double-edged sword" on The Afternoon Shift on September 24, and added if the maps were shared it'd be disconcerting:  
"We don't want to either glorify a gang or maybe unintentionally cause a gang rift," Chief Roti said. "You [a gang member] could look at a map and say, 'They got way more territory than us.'"

Chief Roti also expressed concern about the possibility that such maps would stigmatize any particular Chicago neighborhood as being affiliated with gangs. "That not only goes into people buying homes," he said. "That could go into businesses looking to start there."
 I don't think I agree with this, considering gangs are everywhere in Chicago, and the nature of the beast. I actually think that if maps like this were readily available, used and consulted, it would actually help fight gang violence.

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