As Chicago murder rate jumps, a family mourns: former EI editor Matthew Cassel reports for Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera English broadcast a report today that puts a face and name with the shocking murder rate here in Chicago, which disproportionately affects the Black and Latino community in the US’ third-largest city.

The report was produced by my good friend and former colleague Matthew Cassel. You may have seen his stunning photos of the Egyptian uprising and presidential elections, read his moving interviews with Syrian refugees in Turkey, or recall his reporting from the front lines of Bahrain’s protest movement.

Matthew’s report on the staggering murder rate in Chicago focuses on Darius McGraw, who was gunned down late last year at the age of 22. As Matthew reports, Darius was a community organizer and a pillar of the Southwest Youth Collaborative, which was a place of refuge and education for Chicago teens. The organization closed in October, one month before Darius’ death, for lack of funds.

The city’s primary response to the violence is to increase policing. But as Matthew reports, many residents of these neighborhoods say what is needed is investment in the community.

I can’t help but wonder — how many community centers could be built in Chicago with the billions in tax money the US sends to Israel each year? How many young lives could be saved not only on the south side of Chicago, but also in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan, if instead of filling war coffers, these public funds were used to build a safe society for our children?

Update: Al Jazeera English’s The Stream also focused on violence in Chicago in today’s program.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

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Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.