Falling Asleep to Gunfire: Violence in Chicago, a Country’s Slumbering Response, and How Gang Members Become Peacekeepers
13 Killed, 88 Wounded in July 4th Weekend Shootings. 10-year-old Boy Killed in Drive-by Shooting on the Southeast Side. 3,550 Shootings This Year. The headlines multiply and the country shakes its head at Chicago with sadness and reproach, resorting to callous talk about “gang bangers” and hollow calls to “take back the streets.” Casual remarks attribute the violence to a deficit of values or blame besieged families. Platitudes about the easy availability of guns and the effects of drugs contribute to a narrative of hopelessness. These responses reveal a profound inability to confront Chicago’s violence compassionately and honestly.
What caused this epidemic? What has been done to mitigate it? And what happens when those closest to the violence become the leaders Chicago has been waiting for? What does it take to turn gang-involved youth into neighborhood peacekeepers?
Adar Cohen is an educator, practitioner, and researcher in the areas of conflict resolution, youth empowerment, and nonviolent social change. He has taught and worked for peace and justice in places such as Harlem, Bhutan, Washington, DC, and Belfast. A co-founder of the Civic Leadership Foundation, Cohen has helped over 15,000 at-risk and justice-system-involved youth in Chicago become leaders in their communities. A recipient of a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a George Mitchell Scholarship, and a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, Cohen studied at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, completed his doctorate in International Peace Studies at the University of Dublin’s Trinity College, and trained as a mediator with Mediation Northern Ireland. He is co-author of Jimmie Lee and James: Two Lives, Two Deaths, and the Movement that Changed America and an award-winning faculty member in the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies department at DePaul University.