Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Violence haunts Chicago youth
It's the start of another school year here in Chicago; a fresh start for school kids who are coming off one of the deadliest school years in the city's history. Thirty-four Chicago school kids were killed last year, the majority by gunfire.

After a promising young student, Blair Holt, was killed on a city bus going home from school, many kids left class and attended a half-dozen marches and protests demanding change. Jesse Jackson, along with the mayor and local community leaders, protested gun shops, trying to keep more guns off the streets. But the killings continued.

From her front porch in Chicago, Patricia Brown can clearly see the spot just down the street where her daughter was gunned down. Seventeen-year-old Patrice was walking to a friend's house for a sleep-over when she was killed by a stray bullet in a neighborhood shooting in late August.

Patrice's mother and grandmother have sadly familiar complaints about the violence that often erupts without warning and always seems to leave someone dead. But unlike many other grieving relatives, they let out little emotion as they talked -- Patricia and Darlene Brown say they have no more tears to shed.

"There's nothing down there but anger and hatred," Patricia Brown said. "You get so tired of coming and doing the same thing, hearing the same repetition over and over. And now it's time to stop saying enough is enough, and make it enough."

Just last week, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich cut funding to Operation CeaseFire, an organization dedicated to mediating between rival gang members and preventing violence. He said the organization was no longer a top state priority. The Chicago police say despite all the killings, crime is down overall. They say they respond to spikes in crime, but this new school year will be no different than any other school year before.

Patrice Brown, according to her family, was an outgoing, head-strong teenager. She loved school and got good grades. She couldn't wait to start her senior year and her 18th birthday was coming up in October. Her mother planned to buy her a new laptop.

Patrice dreamed of going to college and getting a degree in business. Instead, she became another face on a shameful list of young victims, another piece of a city's future lost forever.

-- By Ismael Estrada, CNN Producer
David Mattingly, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 5:49 PM ET
  5 Comments
It always amazes me that priorities are only set when the number killed rises to obscene numbers. What happened to the uniqueness and sanctity of each individual life? Does government never consider that?
Posted By Annie Kate, Birmingham AL : 10:46 PM ET
The Youth, which are the future of America, are being killed off and our country's government has done little to solve that. Poverty is the greatest sources of these depressing situations, so how can we let our own citizens live under less than humane conditions?
Posted By Erica : 1:47 PM ET
Another young person with dreams and potential whose life is tragically cut short. Why end a program such as Operation Cease Fire when it appears that it's needed more than ever? Preventing murders should always be a "top priority".
Posted By Fay, Vacaville, CA : 4:06 PM ET
I'm embarrassed to admit that Jackson protested close to my house in late August. I never knew we had a gun shop, or I would have protested with him. I'm upset to hear that programs geared to help the situation are being pulled. I finally watched "Freedom Writers" over the week-end. It would be wonderful if the city were flooded with teachers like Erin, but that's not the case. We really need to reach these kids before they turn to violence. I hope this year sees a decline or end to the violence. Thanks for sticking with the story.
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 5:54 PM ET
Dear David,

I still don't get it what Obama got upset about when AC360 reported live from Chicago on this issue.
Posted By Ratna, New York, NY : 5:55 PM ET
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