NPR asks Michael Lansu of the Chicago Sun-Times Homicide Watch blog how it covered last weekend’s violence in Chicago, which left 14 people dead an 80 shot in 21 incidents. “Police will say that the victim is a documented gang member,” Lansu said, “but as far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t necessarily mean the shooting was gang-related.” Lansu says that if you live on a block where gang members live, members of rival gangs don’t often care much about the distinction: We know you’re from that block, so you must be down with the clique on that block.
There are around 600 gang sets in the city, very small bits of turf. That means crossing into a different neighborhood to go to school might mean crossing into the territory of a group that has beef with gang members near you. You might be implicated in that beef not by association, but by geography. Lansu says the national media pay attention to Chicago only “when its an issue of sheer numbers.” Even then, the terminology is different. “In Chicago, there were [seven] people shot outside of a laundromat, and no one uses the term ‘mass shooting.'” he said.