Chicago Crime Wave Claims Youth

"All the kids ran and there was one young man shot in the upper chest who was lying by a fence. He was shallow bleeding, and he couldn't say a word. He died right there by the fence half a block away from the school."

What instigated the violence? A dispute over a $150 baseball cap decorated with a watch, according to Rufo.

After the killing of 18-year-old Ruben Ivy, the police began escorting students to and from schools, but it hasn't seemed to help abate the violence.

"It doesn't seem to be getting any better," Rufo said. "So many of these kids are angry today. While you used to have fights that involved verbal assaults or fisticuffs, now you're talking about a knife or a gun."

Outreach workers and youth advocates also blame a reduction in state funding for social programs.

Last August, state lawmakers cut $460 million from the budget, including $6 million for CeaseFire, which worked with gang members to prevent violence.

"We work the streets at night and interrupt what's happening just like you interrupt the transmission of any infectious disease," said director Dr. Gary Slutkin, a World-Health-Organization-trained doctor who worked on global epidemics for years.

Before the cutbacks, the group worked with 800 gang members, many of them teenagers, but now they have only enough staff to work with a few dozen, Slutkin said.

"Like in Iraq, where the Sunnis go one way and the Shiites go another, what you're dealing with in Chicago is a very dynamic situation," he said. "If the leadership of one group changes, it's not as relevant as the fact that the violence is normalized in a lot of these communities."

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