In August, Chicago had the deadliest month in two decades with 91 homicide victims, a 46% jump in killings over the same period last year. Its record exceeds that of Los Angeles and New York combined.

An analysis of the bloody month points to the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods as being primarily affected, and young African-American men as the chief victims of loosely organized street gangs.

Malik Causey, 14, was one of those victims. He’s a teenager who loved the way gang members snatched things from the people on the street, fought for each other, and turned drugs into cash.

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He kept his mother on the go. She tried to remain one step ahead to keep him safe, but it was difficult. She once fabricated a story so he’d be locked up, and safe from danger. What a terribly desperate cry for help!

Despite her efforts, Monique Causey was unable to contain her son. He managed to sneak out of the house, and was killed Aug 21, shot in the back of his head just a few blocks from home.

Retaliation is common among rival gangs. It’s simply a harsh reality. What makes it more difficult to accept is when some bystanders are caught in the crossfire.

When they see the person they seek, it doesn’t matter who else is around. It could be the elderly or kids; it’s irrelevant as they start shooting, confirmed Derrick House, 51, a former gang member and ex-convict who now works trying to prevent violence.

Listed are some of the murder victim’s from August:

  • Ronnie Hutchen, 28 – A veteran of the gang scene in the Austin neighborhood, an acknowledged member of the Traveling Vice Lords, stabbed with a knife in the chest.
  • Denzell Mickiel, 24 – Englewood victim who was shot in the face over what police suspect was a gang dispute. He was awaiting trial for allegedly firing shots at a group of people in 2014.
  • Victor Mata, 22 – A member of a faction of the Satan Disciples, found shot to death in the front yard.
  • Christopher Hibbler, 42 – A member of the Black P Stones (a leading black street gang), died when people in a car sprayed gunfire at the corner where he was standing.
  • Tykina Ali, 20 – Was shot and killed when someone opened fire on her boyfriend’s car.
  • Johnell Johnson, 37 – A member of the Black Gangsters on the city’s West Side, was found dead in the street, shot in the face.
  • Abner Garcia (Unk. Age) – Shot in the head while driving down the street after an exchange of words with someone in a van that flashed gang signs at him.
  • Arshell Dennis III, 19 – The son of a Chicago police officer, came home from college in New York to visit his family. He was sitting on their porch when a man walked up and shot him in the chest. It was a case of mistaken identity, killed by someone who thought he was in a gang.

According to community activists, the eagerness to kill wasn’t as great years ago when larger, more organized gangs that concentrated on carving out and defending drug turf dominated these neighborhoods.

Is there truth in the statement, or rationalizing homicidal behavior?

Monique Causey believes her son might be alive if only she’d been able to move to a safer place.

There are six major risk factors listed by gangfree.org that contribute to gang involvement in urban environments according to Advancement Project report: Lack of jobs for youth, poverty compounded by social isolation, domestic violence, negative peer networks, lack of parental supervision, early academic failure and lack of school attachment.

The reasons why young people join gangs can vary from simple to complex. Some reasons include a sense of “family,” need for food or money, desire for protection, peer pressure, family history or tradition, excitement, and enticement to appear cool.

The age-old question is how do you break the cycle? How can society help individual families replace these enticements with feasible solutions. Understandably, everyone has a different remedy, but something needs to be unleashed as Chicago is Killing Itself!

Photo by Antoinette Alcazar