Our Pledge To You


Mitchell: Urban child soldiers fighting gang wars?

// <![CDATA[
!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');
// ]]>
This scene recently unfolded in broad daylight on the city’s Southeast Side:

“I had just dropped off a customer on 81st and Saginaw. She was about two houses from the corner. I let her out and started to leave. As I got to the corner of 82nd Street, there was a young boy in the street. He went in his waistband and pulled out this large pistol and he started shooting at this car. It was a blue vehicle and there was one person in it. The driver was about to turn onto Saginaw when the young boy started shooting. [The motorist] sped up and continued his turn and kept on going down the street. The young boy didn’t hit him and didn’t seem to hit anything. There was a group of one adult and six children of various ages on the sidewalk walking down Saginaw. None of them appeared to be hit. Then the boy, after he had finished firing, ran east on 82nd Street. He got to the next street and another young man met him and took the gun. The young man who met him ran off. The young boy got on a bicycle and rode away.”

This story was told to me by a reliable source who asked for anonymity.

He believes the shooter couldn’t have been older than 10.

That’s what, fifth grade?

Frankly, the child shooter is likely to become more common, and complicate efforts to keep juveniles out of the adult prison system.


// <![CDATA[
!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');
// ]]>
Just last week, Cook County Commissioner Richard R. Boykin called for the appointment of a Cook County Gun Violence Czar & Taskforce to tackle the problem of street violence.

“We have more shootings in Chicago than in New York and L.A. combined. And part of it is New York has made carrying a gun illegally kryptonite,” said Boykin who represents three of the five communities with the highest homicide rates.

“All of the young people know that if they carry a gun illegally, they are going to jail for a long time, so it is no longer acceptable. That young person is going to do some time,” he said of the situation in New York.

“Here in this state, the criminals don’t respect the law, don’t fear the law. … If people are caught with an illegal gun they are going to get a slap on the wrist.”

According to the National Institute of Justice, the large majority of kids who join a gang do so between the ages of 11 and 15.

Recently, a 12-year-old in Omaha was one of three youths charged with the murder of a 31-year-old man during a drug deal in what police claimed was gang-related shooting. Police allege a 17-year-old recruited his 12-year-old brother.

“We are very concerned about older gang members putting pressure on younger members to do their dirty work,” Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said after the arrest.

In Chicago, more than 2,600 individuals have been victims of gun violence since January 1, 2014, and African Americans make up 80 percent of those killed by gunshot wounds since 2013, according to statistics released to Boykin by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

In many instances, children could be pulling the trigger.

The adults behind these shooters are no different than the terrorists who recruit child soldiers.

We should treat them the same.
Follow Mary Mitchell on Twitter: @MaryMitchellCST

// <![CDATA[
!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");
// ]]>