The streets of Chicago is profiled in a new documentary by New York-based Revolt TV and it shows the nation’s third largest city struggling to get gun violence under control.
Revolt TV, which is carried by cable provider Comcast, is owned by entertainer Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.
On Wednesday EXACT Publicity hosted an advanced screening of “Chicago Love” at its Chicago office for community stakeholders featured in the 90-minute pulse pound and gripping film. The documentary traveled through South Side neighborhoods, such as Woodlawn, Englewood, Auburn Gresham, Grand Crossing, and Roseland, and West Side neighborhoods like North Lawndale, Garfield Park and Austin.
The film will be shown commercial free on Revolt TV at 10 p.m. (eastern) on Nov. 26.
One Woodlawn resident said most gun violence victims and offenders are black, male youths.
“It’s not us that’s dying on these streets every night. It’s the young folks,” said one Woodlawn resident. “That’s who I worry about the most because us older folks are not hanging out on street corners late at night.”
Also featured in the film is Grammy-award music producer and Chicago native Che “Rhymefest” Smith; Rev. Michal Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham; Tio Hardiman, executive director of the nonprofit Violence Interrupters Inc; and Jonathan Jackson, a spokesman for the nonprofit Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the oldest son of civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Pfleger said more youth jobs and activities are needed to curb gun violence while Hardiman said investments in prisons are needed also.
“When ‘brothers’ come out of prison most do not have any job or social skills and as a result no one will hire them,” Hardiman explained. “This is why many end up turning to crime to support themselves because a system released them into the world without preparing them for re-entry.”
However, a 14-year-old youth from Grand Crossing, said black males in Chicago have three choices nowadays.
“Either you will end up in Cook County Jail, at Cook County Hospital or laid up at Cook County morgue,” he said. “And if you don’t like those choices then you better get ‘strapped’ if you want to make it out here on these streets.”
Jackson said this is a sad but true reality for Chicago youths.
“When the mayor and his school board closed 50 schools last year (2013) it did not make the gun violence problem any better,” Jackson said. “Actually it made things worse because now kids must walk through gang territories to get to a new school that’s probably filled with rival gang members. And you can bet some of these kids are walking with protection on them.”
Sports and music were two career choices youths said they would like to pursue.
But negative images on television about blacks and negative songs aired over radio stations is one reason why so many kids want to be rappers or the next Michael Jordan, said Pfleger.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to play professional sports or become a musician but what’s plan B if that does not work out? That is the question our youths seem to have no answer to,” Pfleger added.
One movie critic at the Nov. 19 screening said the documentary is “a must see for youths both black and white.”
Nathaniel and Cleopatra Pendleton are the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old high school honors student shot dead January 2013. First lady Michelle Obama attended Hadiya’s funeral along with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other local elected officials.
“I will never get to see my baby smile again. She had a beautiful smile,” Cleopatra Pendleton said.
Hadiya and a group of friends were at a South Side park on Jan. 31, 2013 after getting out of school early, said Nathaniel Pendleton.
“It was raining that day and everyone had gotten under a canopy to stay dry. Then some guy climbed over a fence across the street and (according to Chicago police) started shooting into the crowd,” Nathaniel Pendleton said.
“He thought the group (mainly girls) were rival gang members. But what got me was when I learned that as he started shooting everyone ran away and Hadiya was shot in the back. This guy shot at people running away from him. That makes him an even bigger coward in my book.”
Another scenario discussed in the film was the demolition of all public, high-rise buildings by the Chicago Housing Authority.
“When the CHA tore down all those buildings it displaced gangs, who did nothing but move to the closes neighborhood and that’s where they are today,” said Wallace “Gator” Bradley, a former gang member and now a community activist. “It is no accident that certain black neighborhoods have a gang problem.”