Afternoon Edition: Living in Chicago’s most violent neighborhood

Plus: Dad of Highland Park shooting suspect takes plea deal; Cubs fire manager and more.

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Marie Henderson (clockwise from left), Caprisha Norfleet and her sons Cornell and Camarion and Marcus “Moon” Mitchell.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

For the last few months, our reporter Andy Grimm and photojournalist Ashlee Rezin have spent time with West Garfield Park residents, getting to know neighbors there and hearing their perspectives.

The result is our “Voices from West Garfield Park” series, in which residents open up about their experiences living in the neighborhood, plans for the future and more.

We’ll share some of their stories below — plus, we’ve got the top stories you need to know this afternoon. 👇

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Matt Moore, newsletter reporter (@MattKenMoore)


TODAY’S TOP STORY

What it’s like to live in West Garfield Park

Reporting by Andy Grimm

Chicago’s most violent neighborhood: No city in America sees more shootings than Chicago, and nowhere in the city is gun violence more intense than in West Garfield Park. The square-mile neighborhood, just west of one of the largest botanical conservatories in the country, has seen nearly 1,000 shootings over the last five years — roughly one every other day.

The residents who have stayed: The population of West Garfield Park has fallen steadily since the 1950s, dwindling from over 40,000 to roughly 17,000 people today. The Sun-Times spent months talking to residents who have stayed despite the nearly constant gunfire.

Below, read condensed versions of stories from three of them. You can click their full names to read their full stories in their own words, and hit “Read More” to check out the full series where we spoke to more West Garfield Park residents.

Marie Henderson: Marie Henderson has lived in West Garfield Park since the 1950s, when the neighborhood was a destination for a Black middle class. Henderson and her late husband owned several businesses, including Out of the Past Records, which she still operates today. Under that tattered green canopy at the record store, customers will find studio-quality portraits of dozens of loyal customers and “at least a million” records, cassettes and CDs. Most days, they also will find Henderson herself, working alongside three generations of her family.

She lives a block away in the same graystone house where she raised her children, who for years have tried to get her to move. Henderson said the block, once home to families that joined block clubs and held holiday parties, sees several volleys of gunfire each year, usually targeting gang members selling drugs on the block. Henderson said she plans to continue living in her home. “Why should I have to move when I own my home, pay taxes? Somebody that’s out doing wrong, they get to stay?”

Caprisha Norfleet: Caprisha Norfleet, 28, a delivery driver, is the mother of two sons and has lived in the neighborhood for most of her life. She’s raising her boys with the help of a community of family, friends and neighbors. But violence has spiked in the neighborhood, and she’s looking for a safer place to call home. “We hear the gunshots. When they hear it, I say, ‘Them firecrackers, they are really popping them firecrackers out here.’ I don’t want to say, ‘Oh, there are gunshots, they’re shooting,’” she says.

Marcus ‘Moon’ Mitchell: Born and raised in West Garfield Park, Marcus “Moon” Mitchell remained a high-ranking gang member into his 40s before he was recruited to work for a community violence intervention group. Now he’s in charge of outreach workers for the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago. “Their life is isolated,” Mitchell says of neighborhood gang members. “They can’t go on this block or that block, because of territory. You have some of these guys, they haven’t even been downtown. They haven’t been to the movies. They haven’t been to the beach.”

READ MORE


WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

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The Cubs will hire former Brewers manager Craig Counsell to replace David Ross.

Quinn Harris/AP

  • Cubs’ surprise manager move: In a shocking change, the Cubs are hiring Craig Counsell to replace David Ross as manager. The former Brewers skipper, who is widely considered one of baseball’s best managers, had also been considering the Guardians and Mets after his contract with Milwaukee expired at the end of October.
  • 11-year-old critically wounded: An 11-year-old girl was shot in her head and critically wounded Sunday when a neighbor fired a gun during an argument and a bullet came through the window of a home in West Englewood.
  • Robert E. Crimo Jr. takes plea deal: Crimo, the father of Highland Park parade massacre suspect Robert Crimo III, pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct and will serve 60 days in jail.
  • Lake Michigan brings families comfort: For some Venezuelan migrants who lived near the country’s biggest lake, being by Lake Michigan reminds them of simpler times when they were younger — and inspires hope for a fresh start.
  • Oak Park extends help to migrants: The Village of Oak Park has taken emergency action to assist hundreds of unhoused migrants on its doorstep. Last week, the suburb approved special spending for the crisis, passed an emergency declaration and began to provide emergency shelter for more than 100 migrants staying at Chicago’s Austin District police station.
  • Local coffee company’s first location: Save A Lot franchisee Yellow Banana has made good on its promise to include a Black-owned vendor at its Englewood location, six months after the company’s controversial takeover of a former Whole Foods. I Love My Coffee Black plans to open its first brick-and-mortar location at the site by the end of the year.
  • Yes chef! The hugely popular and critically acclaimed Chicago-set TV series “The Bear” will be returning for a third season, it was announced Monday.

SUN-TIMES STAFF SUGGESTS 🚲

Explore the North Branch Trail System

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Glimpses from a recent bike trip along the North Branch Trail System.

Kaitlin Washburn/Sun-Times

I caught up with Sun-Times reporter Kaitlin Washburn, who suggests exploring the North Branch Trail System.

Offering 20 miles of trail along the northern section of the Chicago River, the trail is a great way to get some fresh air, she says.

“I recently rode my bike from the bottom to the top of the trail and managed to forget I was in a city for a while,” Kaitlin tells me.

Why you should try it: It’s easy to access the trail from multiple locations along the route, and it’s friendly to people on foot and on wheels, Kaitlin says. “There are also plenty of spots for anyone looking to sit back and picnic, birdwatch or fish.”

Hop on wherever: The trail goes right to the southernmost part of the Chicago Botanic Garden. There’s even a handy pedestrian and cyclist-only entrance to the grounds on Dundee Road, just past the Skokie Lagoons.


BRIGHT ONE ✨

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Payton Lange (clockwise from top, left) and Michael Dineen cross the finish line during the SkyRise Chicago event at Willis Tower and more scenes from Sunday’s fundraiser.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Climbers trek up 103 floors in Willis Tower for SkyRise fundraiser

Reporting by Isabel Funk

Exactly five years ago, a spontaneous spinal cord injury paralyzed now-19-year-old Payton Lange from the waist down.

Yesterday, the anniversary of her injury, she climbed thousands of steps to the top of Willis Tower as part of a fundraiser for the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, which helped her regain the ability to walk.

“I was at my lowest of the low before I came to the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab,” she said. “They didn’t think I was ever going to walk again, but Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, they were like, ‘No, no, that’s not going to happen. We’re gonna get you up and moving. We believe in you.’”

Sunday marked the 15th annual SkyRise Chicago, which this year raised more than $1 million with about 1,800 climbers of all ability levels participating.

On their way to the top, current and former patients, AbilityLab staff, families and others used crutches, carried extra weights and cheered each other along up the 2,149 steps. At the finish line, former patients passed out medals and cheered on the climbers.

The climbers had a range of ability levels, with some opting to use hand cycles calibrated to match the climb, and others, including one person who had both legs amputated, making the journey up however they were able.

Ben Yared, 24, who experienced a sudden cardiac arrest in 2021 and was a patient at the AbilityLab for about eight months, raised $15,000 this year.

“It means so much to give back to everyone who helped me all those months in rehab,” he said, holding back tears. “I can’t say enough.”

READ MORE


YOUR DAILY QUESTION ☕️

When it comes to high school football, do private schools have an unfair advantage in the state playoffs? Tell us why or why not.

Email us (please include your first and last name and where you live). To see the answers to this question, check our Morning Edition newsletter. Not subscribed to Morning Edition? Sign up here so you won’t miss a thing!


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Editor: Satchel Price
Newsletter reporter: Matt Moore
Copy editor: Angie Myers

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