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Nearly 60 People Shot, 7 Killed In Violent Weekend In Chicago


As the nation grapples with the two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, residents in Chicago say they feel left out of the national conversation on gun violence. The city just had its most violent weekend so far. Chicago police say nearly 60 people were shot and seven people were killed. Patrick Smith of member station WBEZ reports. And a warning to listeners, this story contains the sound of gunfire.

PATRICK SMITH, BYLINE: A lot of the violence happened on the West Side of Chicago in an area that has long struggled with high unemployment and open-air drug markets. Police shared audio from one of the weekend's worst shootings in which one man was killed and seven others wounded. Police say they don't yet know the motive of the shooting.


SMITH: In total, it's almost a full minute of gunfire with the squealing tires of a car speeding away.

CAMIELLA WILLIAMS: That is not normal for us in Chicago.

SMITH: Camiella Williams is with the nonprofit group Live Free Chicago. She was one of a handful of Chicago residents and anti-violence activists who gathered outside of Mount Sinai Hospital this morning. Many West Side gunshot victims are taken to Mount Sinai. And for a couple hours on Sunday, the hospital had to stop accepting emergency room patients because of the crush of people wounded in nearby shootings and a car accident.

WILLIAMS: We shouldn't have to live traumatized like this.

SMITH: Alongside Williams was activist Paris - Tree - Brown, who was with the group Good Kids Mad City. Brown is in a wheelchair. He was paralyzed in a shooting seven years ago.

PARIS BROWN: I was shot on the weekend. And that weekend was similar to this one. During the weekend I was shot, there wasn't any nationwide media coverage or an outcry. Many of the people that died were just another statistic.

SMITH: Brown's point was echoed by many outside the hospital who feel like so-called mass shootings in other communities get a lot of attention, but gun violence in Chicago is overlooked or distorted for political effect.

BROWN: I think that that is clearly some sort of purposeful agenda to overshadow the lives and deaths and tragedy that the black and brown communities are facing by trying to label it as gang shootings.

SMITH: Williams says she's been at the table with national gun control groups, where the discussion is usually about reducing gun sales. But she feels like the problems go beyond gun control.

WILLIAMS: I'm tired of being asked, what's the solution, and when we tell you the solution, we are pushed away from the table.

SMITH: So far this year, 290 people have been murdered, 1,600 shot in Chicago. Both of those numbers are down compared to the last few years. Shootings are at a four-year low, according to Chicago police. But the city is still averaging about seven people shot every day. And Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says the reason for Chicago gun violence is the same as the reason for gun violence across the country. It's too easy to get a gun.

EDDIE JOHNSON: We just simply have to come together, not only to identify, but enact common-sense solutions to these problems because clearly - clearly, too many people are being shot and killed in communities all across America.


LORI LIGHTFOOT: Unfortunately, it happens here almost every weekend.

SMITH: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was also on the West Side of Chicago today.


LIGHTFOOT: There are areas of the West Side that are just desperate.

SMITH: Like the activists, Lightfoot says to solve the problem on the West Side and in all of Chicago, it's going to take more jobs, more investment and more trauma services, in addition to more gun control. In the meantime, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says officers will continue to focus their efforts on seizing illegal guns.

For NPR News, I'm Patrick Smith in Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF MEMORY BLISS' "MIST") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Patrick Smith