We’re not even a week into 2k8, and our pal Rudy is at it again:
By Jon Seidel
Post-Tribune staff writer
GARY—Getting into a fight with the wrong person was the leading cause of violent deaths for all of 2007 in Gary, but that was especially true in the latter half of the year.
Since July 1, Gary police have investigated 37 homicides. Of those, 18 were caused by a fight or altercation, according to Lake County Coroner’s statistics.
In all, 29 of the 71 homicides committed in 2007 were categorized the same way.
Mayor Rudy Clay, though, believes the increase in deaths last year was driven by a spike in domestic homicides.
Eleven people were killed after household arguments spilled over into violence last year. Six of those occurred after July 1, anchored by a brutal triple homicide in August.
That’s compared to a total of four domestic homicides in 2006.
“In Gary, Indiana, our homicides are not like, say, Chicago, thugs and drugs and gangs and young people killing each other in the schools,” Clay said. “That’s not the cause of it in Gary.”[Emphasis mine]
Chicago police officials couldn’t be reached for comment in response to Clay’s statements.
However, Chicago is on track to have its lowest homicide toll since 1965, when police reported 395 killings. The city had logged 435 slayings through Dec. 26. In the early part of the decade, police often reported more than 600 a year.
Chicago officials credit the improvement to their tough stance on gangs, guns and drugs.
“Those three ingredients, so to speak, are what we’re focused on,” police spokeswoman Monique Bond told The Associated Press. “That’s really what leads to random violence.”
Clay said he wants to enlist Indiana University Northwest early this year to conduct an in-depth analysis of homicides in 2007 to find out why the rate of violent killings jumped by nearly 40 percent.
“Tell us what’s really going on,” Clay said.
He said he is also hoping a new job resource program at City Hall will help calm some of the anger boiling over in the homes.
“We think if people in the community had more jobs, we think it will bring down the anger among people,” Clay said.
Families of the victims in 2007 tend to agree that anger is overwhelming people in the city. Much of it, they say, is frustration from not being able to find jobs.
According to the U.S. Census, 54 percent of Gary’s population is in the labor force, as opposed to the national average of 65 percent.
The percentage of families in Gary below the poverty level, according to the Census, is 27 percent, as opposed to the national average of 10 percent.
Marguerite Dyson, whose son Jermaine Dyson was shot and killed in the Aetna area last year, has decided to move away from Gary.
She said there are no employment opportunities for young people, especially those with criminal records who want to start a new life.
“If you have a record you can’t get a decent job,” Dyson said.
Renee Kellom, a relative of homicide victim Shadonna Cheatham, said too many people feel free to kill others in Gary.
Cheatham was shot in the head at her home in the 4400 block of West 24th Avenue on July 26. Dia K. Nelson has been charged with her murder, but remains at large.
“It shouldn’t be so easy to just kill somebody and walk away,” Kellom said.
I guess my first question here is, if Rudy’s so convinced that the murders are domestic in nature, why does he need to spend the money on a study? My next question: What makes him think that these murders, domestic though they may be, aren’t related to “thugs and drugs?” Because really, just how many “non-thugs” are beating and killing people? Not that they don’t, but percentage-wise, what do you think is the spread?
I just can’t get past it that to Mayor Rudy Clay, people dying from domestic violence doesn’t compare with other “serious” crimes.
On another note: Girlie, Soph and I watched “Jesus Camp” on A & E the other night (which, if you haven’t seen it, you should; such a well-done documentary), and did you know that in the Pentecostal religion, its subscribers are encouraged to essentially rape and pillage the land as they see fit (yes, I’m paraphrasing) because they’re going to heaven and won’t need earthly things after they die or some such dogma? Girlie or Soph, feel free to correct me if I’m not remembering that right, but after hearing that I just sat there like, “Well, wait, isn’t that a little short-sighted? Why would you have that attitude if there are future generations of Pentecostals to feed, etc.?” I don’t recall ever hearing another religion endorsing wanton wastefulness like that, either. Just really bizarre. Oh and there was speaking in tongues, which always makes me chortle.