The killing of Endia Martin, 14, in Chicago, began in the virtual world of cyberspace, says Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass. Now the Chicago Police Department has detailed officers “to watch those virtual playgrounds, where gangsters get together and boast about who got capped, who fell and who should die.” The New York Police Department has been doing this work formally for several years, by posting fake social media profiles as bait for gangbangers to follow. Sources say Chicago police have followed suit with a new unit to deal with gangs and cyberspace.
Publicly, officials would not go so far as calling it a “unit,” opting instead to describe it as a crime-fighting tactic that is being expanded. “For gang members, social media is the new graffiti,” said police spokesman Adam Collins. “It’s a way to communicate, to intimidate, to sound off, to taunt other gangs or to boost their own reputation.” Cops who work with the new unit are impressed with the information they’re receiving. Says Kass: “On social media, insults and challenges are posted for the world to see, or at least for those who know where to look. The insults increase, others get involved, and some bring guns. That’s what allegedly happened before Endia’s slaying: trash talk on Facebook over a boy. And then a gun came out.”