.CHICAGO (AP) – Nine people were killed in 36 shootings over the weekend in Chicago, reflecting what some community leaders say is a deadly breakdown in discipline among gang members after a crackdown over the past few years put many of their leaders behind bars.
“The older guys in the past looked out for the little ones. Now they’re all locked up,” said Nick Stames, a social studies teacher at Crane Tech High School on the city’s gang-ridden West Side. “There’s no sense of discipline in the projects. Everybody’s doing their own thing.”
Now there is growing fear that Chicago could be in for a long, bloody summer.
“If this happened on this weekend, what is ahead of us when it gets to be 85, 90 and when the schools close in June?” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, an activist on the South Side. “A lot of kids out there are running their own game, trying to one-up each other for respect.”
The shootings included drive-by attacks, and one case in which someone shot up a plumbing supply store with an AK-47. At least 14 of the shootings were gang-related, according to police. As for the rest, the only thing they can say for sure is that three had nothing to do with gangs.
Police spokeswoman Monique Bond would not comment on the breakdown-in-discipline theory. She and others said they were not surprised the spike in shootings happened on one of Chicago’s first spring-like weekends.
“When the warmer weather comes, more people come out of doors,” Bond said. “More crime can occur.”
In the past few years, federal and local law enforcement authorities have taken dozens of gang leaders and members off the streets in and around Chicago.