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Sims: “It’s also horrible when it happens on the South and West sides”

Friday, Jul 8, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sen. Sims makes some valid points in Politico today

On the same day of the mass shooting in Highland Park, five people in Chicago were injured by gunfire and another died. Over the long weekend, Chicago saw 68 people shot and eight killed.

The Chicago violence, down by 14 percent from a year ago. according to the city’s police chief, drew passing attention while the governor of Illinois and vice president converged on Highland Park to offer condolences and raise their voices about how “enough is enough.” Even the pope offered prayers.

Highland Park isn’t experienced with such violence. Not a single murder was logged between 2000 and 2020, according to FBI crime stats, and other violent crime was a fraction of what it is in the rest of the state, The New York Times reported.

But the attention paid to the mostly white suburban town hasn’t been lost on some residents on Chicago’s South and West sides, where the brunt of the city’s violence occurs.

State Sen. Elgie Sims Jr., who carried much of the criminal justice reform measures that lawmakers passed last year, said interns in his office and seniors he visited yesterday have spoken out about the disproportionate attention.

“A woman pulled me aside to say, ‘I appreciate the work you do on gun violence, but when violence happens in our community, where’s the outpouring of support? Where are the national leaders when it happens in my community?’” Sims told Playbook.

“It’s a reasonable question,” said Sims, who has worked with fellow Democratic lawmakers to call out systemic racism in the justice system.

“It’s not to diminish the pain in Highland Park. What happened is horrible and horrific,” he said, “But it’s also horrible when it happens on the South and West sides.”

* Meanwhile, the Sun-Times reports about a possible special session on guns

The goal in the aftermath of the July Fourth Highland Park massacre is to limit military style weapons and keep those and other firearms out of the hands of people considered dangerous to themselves or others. […]

Pritzker’s office is looking at everything from training and education about the Firearm Restraining Order, or the “Red Flag” law designed to keep guns away from those deemed a danger to themselves or others — to putting into state statute the amount of time a “clear and present danger” file should be kept, even if it’s unfounded.

State law requires police and teachers to file such reports when someone exhibits dangerous behavior that should bar them from having a gun.

The state currently keeps such records for just six months but lawmakers are seeking “clarity in the law.”

Pritzker’s office has also had discussions about potentially lowering the levels of proof required for a report to trigger action, according to a source with direct knowledge.

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  1. - Techie - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 9:33 am:

    I’m reminded of this mini-monologue from The Joker,

    “Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan”. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds.”

    Gun violence is awful and terrible wherever it happens. Unfortunately, it has become the norm in too many places in Chicago, whereas it is completely unexpected in a place like Highland Park.

    Psychologically, it’s more shocking when violence happens where it’s not expected.

    None of this is to say that the two should be treated different or that we should turn a blind eye to the violence in Chicago. Quite the contrary - we should determine root causes and address them if we ever want to have the same expectations of the south and west sides of Chicago as we have of Highland Park.

  2. - cermak_rd - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 9:33 am:

    The violence on the south and west sides has a lot also to do with the massive availability of guns and with social media, much like the HP shootings.

    It also has to do with poverty and the nothing to lose mindset that can be developed from it. Like guns, deep poverty is just one more intractable aspect of the American system. It’s unfortunate, but that’s America.

  3. - WestBurbs - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 9:39 am:

    Apologies in advance for what may be an insensitive comment.

    While I abhor gun violence in all its forms, I do differentiate between “crime” and “random.” My visceral sadness is deeper when HP happens vs when guys who participate, in the words of Alderman Vasquez, a “certain lifestyle,” shoot each other. To be clear, I put in the former category bystanders who are shot in the crossfire of the latter.

    I also think the solutions/efforts to combat “crime” and “random” differ. So, I’m upset by all shootings but consider them to be quite different.

  4. - low level - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 9:41 am:

    Not to take away from anything Sen Sims said, but perhaps it happening in Highland Park will show people that it really can happen anywhere and this fact will help promote better reforms of gun laws in Illinois?

  5. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 9:45 am:

    There is actually a fair number of shootings on the South and West sides that involve assault rifles and a lot involving high capacity magazines. It’s mostly handguns, but it does happen.

  6. - RNUG - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 9:48 am:

    == just six months ==

    Make it 5 years, longer if a juvenile to

    == potentially lowering the levels of proof required for a report to trigger action ==

    If by action, they mean further investigation, that is good. If they mean seizure, they need to be careful of not crossing the threshold into unconstitutional action.

    One think not mentioned above was opening juvenile records for younger applicants. I thought that was going to be part of the mix to improve the FOID vetting process.

    And maybe stricter scrutiny of first time FOID applicants, including social media. I might exclude first time honorably discharged former military from that deeper dive.

  7. - Joliet gram - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 9:51 am:

    low level: Illinois HAS strict gun laws. Sadly, the Red Flag section in the law needs to be refined/changed so that FBI and police have greater latitude in enforcement. Social media access must also be in the refinement of existing laws. Greater access to these platforms is a must if we are to uncover sick postings that give a clue to what sick minds are attempting to do to others. MANY dropped the ‘ball’ in this HP family in their attempt to shield this twisted kid.

  8. - WestBurbs - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 9:56 am:

    Three Dimensional Checkers — absolutely, particularly in Little Village where the local gang guys seem to have a limitless supply of high powered rifles.

    The real overlap, however, is in high capacity mags. Seems like every other “crime” mope has a 30 round clip (and every “random.”) That is one reason why my #1 suggestion is a ban on mags with > 5 shot capacity (although I’d settle for 10). Would vastly limit damage from “randoms” like HP/Uvalde and would help (a bit) with “crime.” And in my unscientific survey of my gunowner pals (including some true gun nuts), all would find it acceptable.

  9. - CS - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 10:20 am:

    Sen. Sims can’t not have the spotlight on himself for even one moment. Somehow he has to make this about him….while trying to not appear so obvious. Lame.

  10. - Amalia - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 10:22 am:

    Sen. Sims, the whataboutism is not helpful. these people who experienced the July 4 mass violence are your allies. work with them. besides, tell me some place I’ve missed, which neighborhood that has had no killings experienced the death of 7 and wounding of over 40 people in a matter of minutes in one place?

  11. - Ashland Adam - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 10:22 am:

    Couldn’t agree more w Sen. Sims, and called WBEZ two days ago to make this point - when they were discussing the horror of the Highland Park incident.
    There’s plenty of random violence btw on the W and S sides, including against people who aren’t living a ‘certain lifestyle;’ witness this 19 yr old Lane Tech Grad and UIC student, waiting for a bus:×9

  12. - Ashland Adam - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 10:25 am:

    Google that shooting - the young man in Douglas Park. Black kid on west side - barely gets coverage. I had to find it in Yahoo News.

  13. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 10:37 am:

    Senator Sims and his constituents have every right to wonder “What about us?”

    We have allowed some politicians and the police to blame the Black community and the victims for gun violence for far to long. He got shot because he was in a gang, so it is his fault. She got shot because her dad was in a gang, so it’s her fault. A two year old got shot because she was walking down the sidewalk and a passerby who was affiliated with a gang got shot at, so it’s the toddlers fault. Rarely do we here a Chicago shooting story where the media asks questions about how the guns got there, because they don’t blame the guns, and that honestly is something the suntimes and Chicago Tribune could fix.

    We still do not know where the gun that led to the death of Adam Toledo came from, despite promises, and no reporter has followed up.

    Maybe this is a job for Frank Main?

    At the same time, it’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison.

    Highland Park is a town of 30K people where everyone knows everybody else, and seven people were murdered and another 40 shot or injured within a couple minutes with almost the whole community present. Elected officials were there, law enforcement was there, media was there, and it had a cascading effect of shutting down celebrations across the region.

    That’s a very different level of trauma and news attention than multiple shootings spread across a city of 3 million.

    If a gunman shot up the Bud Billiken parade, I am pretty sure it would make national news. And honestly, it’s not the kind of thing you would wish for.

    What happened in Highland Park is awful. What’s happened in Chicago is awful. But in 2019 there were over 300 people murdered outside of Chicago, and we never, ever hear politicians talk about the 18 murdered in Joliet, 12 in Aurora, 36 in East St Louis, 25 in Maywood, 12 in Decatur, 25 in Peoria, or 3 in Mount Vernon or 3 in Cahokia and so on.

    To paraphrase Deepthroat: “Follow the guns.”

  14. - levivotedforjudy - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 10:41 am:

    I get it. But, at the fed level, the political will is just not there. As for the urban shootings and murders, how do you solve it? The violence interrupter programs seem to help. Some of the long-term approaches on poverty seem to make sense. But what do you do about the next hot weekend or probably tomorrow? I do know that the people that really want to do something about this because of Highland Park, Englewood, Uvalde and West Garfield Park need to work together.

  15. - Da big bad wolf - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 10:44 am:

    The Highland Park story was a man bites dog story. That’s all.

    This doesn’t mean that people don’t care. And the “certain lifestyle” quote is just ugly. Let’s not go victim blaming here.

  16. - Tony T - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 10:47 am:

    Yes, the attention and outrage sparked by Highland Park is out of balance compared to violence on the South and West Sides, but not hugely out of balance. One can hardly argue regular street violence in Chicago is ignored. It is regularly featured in media coverage — maybe even over-emphasized. And the state just funded violence prevention programs in those communities to the tune of $250 million with the Re-imagine Public Safety program.

  17. - Tough scene - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 10:48 am:

    It’s not an either/or proposition. South and west side violence can stem any number of socio-economic factors, easy access to illegal weapons, and a lack of a motivated police department right now. HP was a sinister brew of a lot of things, the only common denominator being: wait for it— easy access to what should have been an illegal weapon.

  18. - 47th Ward - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 11:05 am:

    I’ve thought about this a lot this week. I don’t have good answers to why we think of mass shootings differently when they happen in areas we think of as crime ridden, versus when they happen in areas we think are safe from violent crime (as if there is such a place).

    In a narrow, general sense, I think a lot of the gun violence in poor neighborhoods in Chicago involves guns that were acquired illegally, and used by people who could never get a gun legally. And I wonder why it seems so easy for criminals to get these guns.

    In the mass shootings that happen in so-called safer areas, like Uvalde, Newtown, Las Vegas, and now HP, the shooters were usually able to purchase weapons legally and with little difficulty.

    The difference is how the shooter(s) get their guns. The thing that is the same is that it is remarkably easy for people to get their hands on powerful, deadly firearms.

    The shootings need to stop. Regardless.

  19. - prairiedog - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 11:14 am:

    I said the same thing. Rich did not publish my comments. I see that the usual commentators have been silent as well.

    It is like some lives matter and well for others, its the “lifestyle” is the excuse people use.

  20. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 11:49 am:

    This is an extremely difficult subject to discuss on an message board because nuance is needed. But gun violence anywhere is awful and totally unnecessary.

    In America gun violence that fits a “crime” narrative is far more palatable. Its the randomness of shootings into an entire crowd of bystanders that becomes frightening. A shooting at a restaurant, a country music concert, a parade, schools.

    But when the violence is contained to a side of town that has dealt with it for years it much easier to accept by a large portion of a the population. Even many of those deaths are random and terrorize neighbors its harder to personalize it and own it.

    I’d offer that its somewhat similar to how many felt about how we viewed the crack cocaine epidemic vs the opioid epidemic. The carnage was contained on “one side” of town and then it came to our side and its a problem we need to deal with and handle with compassion and drug treatment as opposed to wide spread police action and long term prison sentences.

  21. - Nuke The Whales - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 12:43 pm:

    Senator Sims is both right and wrong. If I lived in his district, the lack of compassion and lack of a sense of urgency for my neighborhood would almost certainly more than frustrate me. The murders in these neighborhoods deserve real concerte policy proposals at as widespread of level as those stemming from the murders in Highland Park. As noted, the state just funded violence prevention programs in those communities to the tune of $250 million with the Re-imagine Public Safety program, but there is something to be said for the emotional support and attention.

    Where Senator Sims is wrong. The murders at Tops Friendly Markets grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Buffalo also got more national press than other murders in Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area. That is not a sign that other murders in that area are not horrible.

  22. - wow now - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 12:44 pm:

    CS - you’re a piece of trash for trying to make this about you.

    Elgie is right. Everyone in Highland Park is horrified that it happened here but it does not make the gun violence in Chicago less horrific. Elgie’s communities should have the same support and level of interventions that people are talking about here. Elgie is right. It’s all horrible.

  23. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 12:56 pm:

    ===I said the same thing===

    Which sock puppet name did you post under and which of your many IP addresses did you use?

  24. - thisjustinagain - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 1:14 pm:

    cermak_rd - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 9:33 am:

    “The violence on the south and west sides has a lot also to do with the massive availability of guns and with social media, much like the HP shootings….”

    So are we going to ban social media next?? Or require social media permits and background checks to use social media??

    The problem is the criminal; not the tools of the law-abiding.

  25. - Jimmy Cricket - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 1:20 pm:

    I see Rich doesn’t like stats, not surprising, no one here likes basic economics either.

  26. - Nagidam - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 1:25 pm:


    ===While I abhor gun violence in all its forms, I do differentiate between “crime” and “random.”===

    There was nothing random about the Highland Park shooting. It was planned. Random would what happens in the south and west sides of Chicago mostly while some of the shootings are planned. I think what you are trying to differentiate is the propensity for violence in one area versus another.

  27. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 1:33 pm:

    ===I see Rich doesn’t like stats===


    What are you even talking about? Stop being such a whiny victim.

  28. - cermak_rd - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 1:43 pm:


    When it comes to the guns it is definitely the weapon. No other legal means would have killed and injured as many as quickly as that gun with its clips did.

    When it comes to social media, I would outlaw anonymity (I’m fine with pseudonymity as long as the social media company has know your customer information available and provides it when served with a subpoena or warrant). It is used to libel online. It is used to incite hatred online. It is used to blow up minor disputes online and it is used to recruit people into extremism.

  29. - WestBurbs - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 2:01 pm:

    Da big bad wolf - the “lifestyles” phrase didn’t originate from me - came from the Alderman who was afraid to say “gang member.” Feel free to google it

    Nagidam - no, that is not what I’m saying. I am saying that the vast majority of Chicago shootings are gang members (or gang adjacent guys) shooting other perceived gang members, generally over “beefs” or “disrespect” or territory disputes, and rarely in the commission of other crimes. If you are involved in the CC criminal justice system - or just study the stats - you will agree.

    To all — I don’t get your jibes at Rich. My comments often diverge from what I suspect are Rich’s views and yet they always post. Probably because I avoid nasty language and ad hominem attacks- because those are Rich’s rules and its his site.

  30. - low level - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 2:04 pm:

    ==no one here likes basic economics either.==


  31. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 2:24 pm:

    @Cool Papa Bell -

    Well said.

    It goes back to what I said earlier.

    There is a difference in how the news media approaches the stories and how law enforcement narrates it.

    Law enforcement is always going to look for a Gang Explanation for every shooting in the Black or Latino community, and if they can’t find one, keep looking until they do.

    When a white kid pulls the trigger, it’s always about the gun and mental illness: what kind of gun, how did he get it, what was his childhood like, was he bullied, who turned him into the kind of person that would do this, were there warning signs?

    Everyone wants to know why the police could not keep these guns out of Highland Park but no one seems worked up about law enforcement’s failure to stop the guns flowing into Austin or Englewood.

  32. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 2:27 pm:

    ===no one here likes basic economics either.===

    Sure, Jan.

    The post isn’t about the victims here whining, the discussion is about what is at play for the real victims of violence and how Illinois could do better.

  33. - Google Is Your Friend - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 2:45 pm:

    - Thomas Paine - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 2:24 pm:

    Not unlike last month’s WSJ piece on the rural murder wave and its (false) claim that you couldn’t “pinpoint” a reason why unlike urban areas. When it comes to white people, the excuses and misdirection flow greater than the Nile.

  34. - Demoralized - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 2:58 pm:

    ==not the tools of the law-abiding==

    Guns are “tools” now? *smh*

  35. - Old Weaver - Friday, Jul 8, 22 @ 3:11 pm:

    Killings are terrible anywhere, as if it’s necessary to even say that. And too many guns, and mental health, and socio-economic factors are at play both in HP and the city. But city violent crime is mostly targetted at a specific would-be victim, not at large public gatherings. Innocent by-standers are not the target in most city shootings; they were the only target in HP. If the Bud Biliken Parade or any other such public gathering had a similar attack, the media and other responses would mirror what we’ve seen in HP.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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