Chicago comienza a asustar con sus estadísticas de muertos por homicidios, tenencia de armas y delitos vinculados con la comercialización de drogas. La crisis económica flota como un espectro por sobre las comunidades más pobladas y racialmente mezcladas de los EEUU. En algunos barrios hay más muertes violentas que las producidas en el apogeo de la invasión estadounidense a Irak. La nota que sigue es de Zero Hedge:
Título: Chicago Disintegrates - Gun Shootings Soar An Unprecedented 89%: "It's The Struggling Economy"
Texto: While the Obama administration has been vocal about its intentions to limit access to guns for Americans across the nation, in the process achieving the opposite and leading to record gun sales, FBI firearm background checks that just hit an all time high for the month of March...
... and record stock prices of US gun makers such as Smith and Wesson, perhaps it should focus on what has become the epicenter of ground zero for violence and gun homicides in the US: Obama's "home town" of Chicago.
According to a CNN report, gun violence in the windy city is on track to post its worst year in the 21st century, the result of an unprecedented surge in gun deaths in the first three months of the year. By March 31, 141 people had been killed, according to the Chicago Police Department. On Thursday, eight were shot and two of them died in one hour alone, Chicago Police said.
The 141 deaths in the first three months of the year mark a 71.9% jump from the same period in 2015, when 82 people were killed. It's the worst start to a year since 1999, when 136 people died in the first three months the year, according to the Chicago Tribune.
At that pace - an average of three killings every two days - Chicago would have 564 homicides by the end of the year. That would eclipse the 468 killings recorded in 2015 and 416 in 2014.
Overall, shootings have also skyrocketed. According to data provided by Chicago police, the number of shootings in the first three months of the year jumped from 359 in 2015 to 677 in 2016 - an 88.5% increase.
The result are countless stores of personal tragedy. For example, eighty-year-old Betty Johnson has lived in Chicago's Roseland neighborhood since 1968. She raised two children and several grandchildren on the city's far south side, where she has lived her entire life.
After her granddaughter Sabrina was killed in a car accident in 2008, Johnson gained full custody of her great-grandson Andre Taylor.
She looked on proudly as he busied himself with swimming, football and karate. She knew the dangers someone his age faced if he spent too much time on the streets of Chicago.
On a Sunday night in March, her worst nightmare was realized. Andre, 16, was shot in the head and killed just a block from his home.
"It has gotten much worse out here," Johnson says, standing outside her home and looking out onto the streets she knows so well.
There was gang violence when Johnson was growing up, "but you never heard anything like what's going on today," she says.
And it's getting worse. Another example is 14 year old Tyjuan Poindexter.
Michael Gabb knows the pain Betty Johnson feels all too well. He helped raise his grandson Tyjuan Poindexter. The 14-year-old had never been in serious trouble, and Gabb was raising him in his home in the Kenwood neighborhood.
He believes Tyjuan was mistaken for a gang member when he was killed in a drive-by shooting just a few blocks from his home. Gabb told CNN six months ago he was hopeful police would find the people responsible. Mayor Rahm Emanuel even paid a visit to Gabb's home to offer his condolences.
Almost six months later, Gabb is still hopeful his grandson's killer will be found. But he thinks it may only happen if someone steps forward with information.
He hopes things can change so others don't suffer the same fate as his grandson. But how that change will occur and what's causing the violence is something difficult to narrow down to one definitive explanation.
Gabb, like many residents and advocates throughout the city, agree that there are several contributing factors; some old, some new.
What is perplexing is that even the ordinary people are getting it: "I think it's got something to do with economics," Gabb says of the continued shootings. As CNN adds, most residents say communities continue to suffer from an economy that is nowhere strong enough to keep at-risk youths from looking for financial support in the wrong places.
"There's not enough money to sustain certain families and people go into drugs," Gabb says.
However, and very sadly, it is none other than the president who insists that anyone suggesting the US economy is in dire shape is "peddling fiction." In other words, classic denial of what is happening in his own back yard.
It's hard for longtime community pastor Ira Acree to watch. He has been serving the Austin community on Chicago's West Side for 26 years.
"It's horrifying," he says. "It's horrifying to look at the numbers from this winter, because if it's that bad in the winter, we better brace for a long, hot summer."
And since it is indeed the economy's fault, it is about to get much worse. Acree, like Gabb, believes the struggling economy in many communities is a big part of the problem.
"All of the violence is rooted in the illegal drug economy," Acree says. "Many guys have allowed their economic desperation to cause them to resort to these measures. The economy is terrible, especially in African-American neighborhoods."
Acree says the violence is the worst he's seen since the 1990s, and he'd like to see a state of emergency declared for wide areas of the city by President Barack Obama, who called Chicago home for so many years.
The lament is one heard across most poor areas in the US: "I'm hoping that some money is invested in some job creation. We bailed out Wall Street, why not bail out Main Street? It would make a world of difference," Acree says.
"If you really want to stop this epidemic of violence, the best way to stop a bullet is with a job."
Which is odd, because according to the BLS, jobs across the US are growing at a brisk pace of over 200K per month.
What is rarely mentioned, however, is the true state of affairs even for those with jobs, according to which the net income of virtually every social group of Americans has devolved dramatically in recent years. As a recent Pew survey showed, by 2014, median income had fallen by 13 percent from 2004 levels, while expenditures had increased by nearly 14 percent. This change in the expenditure-to-income ratio in the years following the financial crisis is a clear indication of why and how households feel financially strained.
But that will be ignored as the myth of a recovery has to be perpetuated at all costs.
Meanwhile Chicago is disintegrating and as long as the culture of denial persists, there is no hope. The local residents know it too.
Jahmal Cole, 32, grew up in the city of North Chicago, about 45 miles from Chicago's South Side. But in 2007, he moved to the Chatham neighborhood on the South Side, one of the toughest, to help young kids most at risk of falling prey to gangs and drugs.
"I think that we've developed a mentality in Chicago -- we see ourselves part of the North Side, South Side," Cole says.
If they tried to learn from others, or immerse themselves in other opportunities, Cole believes lives could be changed. His nonprofit organization, My Block, My Hood, My City, is dedicated to providing young people with opportunities to see things they don't even know exist.
"They don't know what's available," he adds. "They don't know the museum is open Tuesday nights. Many of these kids have never even seen the lakefront in their entire life." Many will never see a lifestyle different from one where squad cars are part of the norm and the constant hovering of police helicopters is more known than a YMCA. It's a way of life he views as "traumatizing" to the children and part of a cycle he is trying to break.
He knows there isn't one easy fix: "I don't think there's a program a policy or a resolution that's going to solve violence in Chicago," Cole says. He believes many teens and residents suffer from what he calls "poverty of imagination." Cole hopes to bring new experiences to one child at a time and hopes that will make a difference.
But for Betty Johnson, as she stands outside her longtime home, thinking about all of the years she's lived in Chicago, there isn't as much hope as there is sadness anymore.
"I feel sorry for all of these young kids coming up today," she says. Johnson wishes she could do more to save her other grandkids from the streets of Chicago and from the same fate as her great-grandson Andre.
"If I wasn't so old, I'd take the other grandkids that are living with me and go so far up in the country, it would take three hours to get to me," she says. "It's just so bad that this is the way we have to live."
Meanwhile, anyone who dares to expose the naked, if heavily armed emperor, will continue to be accused by those tasked with fixing the economy for all, not just for the 1%, as perpetuating the peddling of fiction. Sadly, it may be the ultimate disintegration of this city that forces the administration, either the current one or the next one, to wake from its stupor.
Until then, thousands more will die.