The Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park has dominated headlines with politicians sending their condolences and even Vice President Kamala Harris visiting the Chicago suburb.
Seven people were killed and 46 others injured in the mass shooting. That same holiday weekend, eight people were killed and 60 others wounded in shootings across Chicago. As support pours in for Highland Park, some Chicago residents are left wondering why the gun violence in the city doesn’t receive the same attention.
“Part of it is what we are exposed to in the media,” said Rashawn Ray, a sociologist and senior fellow at The Brookings Institution. “Oftentimes, in terms of what is normalized in different sorts of communities, when you’re on one side of the city compared to the other side of the city. If you’re on the South Side or the West Side of Chicago compared to being in the suburbs of Highland Park, there are differences in expectations around that.”
The Highland Park shooting made national news, while the shootings in Chicago that same weekend received much less media attention. It’s that sort of disparity that sparked reporters at Block Club Chicago to dig into why journalists treat shootings differently.
“We kind of had very intentional conversations about how he planned to cover the Highland Park shooting, especially as a paper that keeps most of its coverage within city limits,” said Mack Liederman, a reporter for Block Club Chicago. “We saw that other major papers in the city had sent hordes of resources to Highland Park for coverage, and very necessary coverage, but we also wondered why the media and senators, politicians, the world seems to gravitate towards these types of shootings in instances in suburban affluent communities, while we kind of feel more desensitized to everyday crime happening in Chicago.”
Violence prevention advocates say they’d like to see the same support and resources given to Highland Park in their communities.
“I feel sympathy for the losses that happened in Highland Park, but then secondarily, I think about the amount of resources that should have been applied to the South and West sides of Chicago during Fourth of July weekend and any other violent weekend where lives have been lost, and we don’t see the governor, we don’t see senators, we don’t see the vice president,” said Arthur Reed, executive director of the Second Chance Initiative, a violence intervention program in South Shore.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker was asked about concerns that he and other politicians are paying more attention to the shooting in Highland Park than ongoing gun violence in Chicago.
In response, he pointed to funding his administration has put towards violent prevention programs, but residents say they want to see more.
“He’s (Pritzker) definitely been on board with giving more attention and more resources and a greater effort to preventing violence that’s occurring in South and West side communities, so I will say that, but obviously a lot more has to be done,” said Donald Tyler, director of Clinical Services for Chicago CRED. “Shootings have been occurring in South and West side communities at high levels for a very long time, year after year, virtually unabated, and so certainly efforts have been increased dramatically over the last few years, but we still have a long way to go.”