Chicago's Gang Violence Fueled Through Social Media


Twenty years ago, Ryan said gang members might disrespect each other by writing graffiti on a wall or shouting obscenities on the street, and only people nearby might have heard it. But that is no longer the case.

"Now if you post something like that on Facebook or Youtube, the potential is that thousands and thousands of people see it," he said. "It's a reality of the world we live in...people using good technology for bad purposes."

Ryan declined to go into specifics about how his division operates concerning gang activity online, but said they do take social media into account when dealing with gang-related crime.

"We know people who are active, it's common knowledge," he said. "If the information is out there, we would look at it, but the majority of our work is done by boots on the ground and talking to people on the street."

The Chicago Police Department said Jojo's death is still an ongoing investigation and no arrests have been made. But the majority of gang-related homicides in Chicago go unsolved. According to the CPD's 2011 Murder Analysis Report, just 128 out of 433 of homicide cases were solved last year.

While the CPD is criticized for this, some officers told ABC News the problem is victims, witnesses or other people with information about a certain case are often unwilling to come forward or be interviewed. A common street phrase is "snitches get stitches." Sometimes police designate cases as "exceptional cleared closed," which means that police identified a suspect, but the victims or witnesses would not cooperate with prosecution.

In his rap hit, "I Don't Like," Chief Keef sings, "A snitch n----, that's that s--- I don't like." The video has over 17.3 million views on Youtube.

But Ryan said he trusts the information his officers are gathering while patrolling the neighborhoods over something they might see on social media.

"[What's on social media], it might be true, it might not be true," he said. "We have people in the field assigned to specific conflicts... That's our baseline understanding of what's going on and what's driving the conflict."

Since the burst of media attention surrounding the Chief Keef-Lil Jojo feud and Keef's Twitter debacle, some of hip hop's heavyweights have joined the discussion. Established rapper Common, a Chicago native, told Power 105.1's "The Breakfast Club" in a Sept. 19 radio interview that he wanted to host a "peace meeting" with Keef to talk about how they can bring people together to stop the violence in Chicago.

"I feel like we just got to sit 'em down and build with them. Talk to them, get some type of peace thing going," Common said at the time. "It's bigger than rap. Kids is dying. I would tell Keef and all of them cats, 'Man we got to sit down and figure out how we're going to get to a peace meeting.'"

Representatives for Common declined ABC News' request for an interview.

Ryan said there is no one answer for stopping inflammatory gang-related comments from spreading online, but he said his department is trying to be pro-active by offering programs, such as the CPD's Gang School Safety Teams, which works with local schools to talk to students and teachers about gang violence and conduct interventions.

CeaseFire's Tio Hardiman said young men involved with gangs see aspiring rappers like Lil Jojo and Chief Keef as role models and they need to work harder to get them to stop promoting violence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and instead send a more positive message.

"Lil Jojo's story is just one story probably out of thousands of stories ... we need to really work on trying to reframe a message in the social media networks," Hardiman said. "These young guys really don't know what they getting involved in. Words can kill. All the time... a lot of young people really need to take a good look at what they put out there in the social media."

ABC News' Alex Perez, Andy Fies, Candace Smith and Sarah Netter contributed to this report

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