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Project May 9, 2013

Gun Violence in Chicago: A Global Problem

Authors:
Graffiti in Humboldt Park on the West Side of Chicago where Latin and black gangs control the streets.  Image by Rieke Havertz. Chicago, 2013.
Graffiti in Humboldt Park on the West Side of Chicago where Latin and black gangs control the streets. Image by Rieke Havertz. Chicago, 2013.

Twelve dead at a cinema in Aurora, 26 dead in a school in Newtown. More than 40 homicides in Chicago in January 2013 alone, making it the deadliest January for the city in over ten years. While politicians and the public talk about tougher gun laws in the wake of each new mass shooting, the people of Chicago have to deal with gun violence every day.

The city has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but poor neighborhoods suffer shootings on a daily basis. How do different groups deal with this problem? How does a family cope with the loss of a family member? Do the police have a strategy? Why did a perpetrator choose a particular gun – and how did he get it?

There's not only suffering but also profit: Local gun shops just outside city limits sell many of the weapons that are later used in crimes. And as one of the largest manufacturers of weapons, the German company Heckler & Koch profits from an American society that values gun ownership. It's their products that are circulating on the streets of Chicago.

In this project, Rieke Havertz, a reporter with the German newspaper Taz, digs deep into a story that is usually driven by breaking news. She shows that one of the most pressing problems of the U.S. cannot be looked at in isolation, but has to be acknowledged as an under-reported global issue.

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