How Gangs Got A Grip on Black Middle-Class Chicago Neighborhood


The south Chicago neighborhood called Pill Hill has long been occupied by the black middle class, but over time, gangs showed less and less respect for geography. With every generation, families in Pill Hill became more vulnerable, says the Chicago Tribune. By the time Angela Hongo, 44, bought a house there in 1999, gangs had slid in from the outskirts. By the time Hongo’s children, Jarius and Jordonea, entered grade school, gangs had claimed the corner outside their classrooms. By the time they reached high school, Jarius had fallen into their grips and Jordonea was on the fringes.

The story of teenagers lured into gangs is a familiar one in Chicago. But not in a neighborhood or family like this. Once gangs broke through, even a tenacious grandmother and a committed mother couldn’t keep the seductive forces at bay. Police can’t explain what happened. “You normally relate gang issues and gang fighting to war-torn neighborhoods, but that’s not the case. The homes are well-kept, the lawns are manicured and when you go there, you feel like you’re in a suburban community,” said Commander Scott Ruiz. “The violence is puzzling when you come into a neighborhood like this.”

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