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From Chinatown to Oakbrook Mall, no place is safe from gun violence

Surely by now it’s crystal-clear that all of must push our elected officials, at every level, to work harder to stem gun violence.

A man helps light candles at a memorial set up for Woom Sing Tse outside Haines Elementary School, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. Woom Sing Tse was shot and killed by Alphonso Joyner in a shooting described as a “execution” earlier on Tuesday. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
A man helps light candles at a memorial set up for Woom Sing Tse outside Haines Elementary School, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. Woom Sing Tse was shot and killed by Alphonso Joyner in a shooting described as a “execution” earlier on Tuesday. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times, Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

On a solemn, overcast Monday, Chinatown held a silent protest in response to the killing of Woom Sing Tse, 71, who was gunned down in broad daylight earlier this month.

With the vigil, the neighborhood joins other Chicago communities — from Avalon Park and Austin to Woodlawn and West Pullman — who are taking to the streets because they are fed up with losing friends, children, neighbors, loved ones and passersby to the maw of the city’s senseless gun violence.

And if it wasn’t clear before — and surely only the willfully ignorant would say so — it should be in the wake of Tse’s horrific slaying: pushing all of our elected officials, at every level of government, to work harder to stem gun violence is every Chicagoan’s fight.

“By keeping our heads down & hoping for the best, our situation will not change,” read the signs carried by the protestors who assembled before Chinatown’s historic gateway at Cermak Road and Wentworth Avenue.

The group and the signage spoke for the Chinatown neighborhood. But in many respects, the message speaks for us all.

‘Individuals do evil things’

Alphonso Joyner, 23, is being held without bond at Cook County Jail, charged with killing Tse as the Chinatown resident walked to buy a newspaper on Dec. 7. Prosecutors said Joyner hopped out of his car and fired nearly two dozen shots at Tse without motive or reason.

“Sometimes individuals just do evil things,” Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy told Judge Maryam Ahmad. “That’s the situation that we have here.”

That ability to do evil is abetted by the astonishingly free flow of guns into this city and region. Chicago police seized 11,128 illegal guns in 2020, and by July 2021, some 5,900 weapons had already been seized. City and police officials have said repeatedly that police are on track to likely seize 12,000 illegal weapons this year.

We see the result every day of having that many weapons in so many hands. Disputes large, small or imagined become reasons to open fire.

We see it in the escalating number of expressway shootings this year. And we likely saw it — miles from Chicago — at last week’s gunfight at Oakbrook Center Mall that left four people injured.

What to do?

The historic root causes that have contributed to the uptick in violence and crime here and across the country must be addressed, along with sensible, effective near-term solutions developed by lawmakers and police.

But this historically balkanized city must realize no neighborhood is safe until all neighborhoods are safe.

Or as a sign in the Chinatown protest put it: Crime is Crime.

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