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Editor’s Note: The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works at the institute.

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Chicago is ravaged by gun violence says a groundbreaking journalist

A prominent officer-involved shooting is part of a broader problem, he says

Chicago CNN  — 

The journalist who broke the story of the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald at the hands of a Chicago policeman says the city, riddled by gun violence, is a broken place.

Chicago is “a broken city where the police don’t want to interact with the community and the community doesn’t want to interact with the police and there are a lot of bodies falling in between them,” Jamie Kalven told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files,” a podcast produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.

Kalven, who works with the Invisible Institute, a journalistic production company on the South Side of Chicago, won a George Polk award for local reporting for his Slate magazine story on the McDonald case. McDonald’s death “may well prove to be a transformative moment,” but Kalven warned that “there are no transformative remedies.”

Laquan McDonald, who was shot by police in Chicago

“What we’re contending with are forms of structural violence that are built into American society,” Kalven said. “This is the society we’ve created.”

“The good news is we know what to do. You know, we’ve long known what to do. Addressing these patterns and these problems and these intolerable conditions for some of our fellow citizens is not going to be a matter of some great innovation, some great new idea, some technological fix. I mean, we know much of what needs to be done and I think that is the heart of the matter in terms of this kind of blood-knot at the center of American life around race.”

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with murder for McDonald’s shooting death.

To hear the whole interview with Kalven, which also touched on the sexual assault of his wife that changed the course of his career, click on To get “The Axe Files” podcast every week, subscribe at