How Corporate News Distorts Gun Violence: In Chicago as elsewhere, mainstream outlets regularly omit stories of people living in close proximity to gun violence.

AuthorVoitl, Shealeigh

In May 2022, a gunman fatally shot sixteen-year-old Seandell Holliday in downtown Chicago's Millennium Park. Within days, then Mayor Lori Lightfoot imposed a 10 p.m. curfew for the city's minors, which the Chicago City Council later voted to make permanent, drawing harsh criticism from local officials, such as Alderperson Roderick Sawyer, who insisted the policy was vague and would only serve to alienate Black and brown youth.

That summer, sixty-five local advocacy groups, including A Just Harvest and the Chicago Community Bond Fund, protested the curfew, urging Lightfoot to invest in noncarceral, community-based programs. The Chicago Police Department's (CPD) budget for 2023 increased to $2 billion, up roughly $340 million since 2019.

Prior to Holliday s tragic death, the Chicago Tribune ran several pieces about Chicago's "downtown violence." However, these reports highlighted how gun violence in the city's center might affect tourism or tax revenue and put additional pressure on CPD. That summer, the Chicago Tribune often framed gun violence in specific communities as a threat to Chicago's city center, instead of a concern in its own right. By contrast, the local nonprofit Chicago newspaper South Side Weekly argued in 2017 that Chicago daily papers often pay "lip service to the idea that the city's gun violence crisis has systemic origins, but still [treat] this violence as an endless series of random acts."

In September 2020, Lightfoot had launched the "Our City, Our Safety" plan, which set aside roughly $411 million to pursue a "holistic approach" to reducing Chicago's gun violence by investing in affordable housing, jobs, education, and other community resources. The plan specifically focused on fifteen Chicago neighborhoods with higher rates of violence, including West Pullman and North Lawndale, but by July 2021, as West Pullman experienced a rise in gun violence, it had seen none of Lightfoot's promised funds.

In 2021, Lance Williams, an urban studies professor at Northeastern Illinois University, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the Lightfoot administration may have acted prematurely in rolling out such a lofty plan without the resources to "make it actionable."

While downtown shootings spiked in 2022, gun violence in downtown neighborhoods such as the Loop and River North still accounted for a small percentage of the city's overall gun violence. Nevertheless, coverage of violence in these neighborhoods, which are predominantly...

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