While the trial of George Zimmerman over Trayvon Martin’s death gripped the media and the political establishment, urban shootings claimed the lives of many more young people, including many young black men. Over the roughly month-long period from the commencement of jury selection on June 10 to the announcement of the verdict on July 12, the city of Chicago alone suffered a total of 61 murders, an average of 1.85 deaths per day. According to data available on the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye website, 52 of those killed were black, 43 were black males, and seven were children under the age of 18. The vast majority died of gunshot wounds. A sample of the victims follows (some of the descriptions below and the links can be disturbing).
- Brandon Cage, age unknown (estimated to be in his 30s): At approximately 1:30 a.m. on June 12, Cage was walking out to meet a man and his girlfriend on the sidewalk outside his Chicago Lawn home. A black Ford Taurus pulled up, and a man identified as Abel Ruiz, 24, exited the car with a drawn handgun. When Cage refused Ruiz’s demand to “throw down the fork” (i.e., make the sign of Ruiz’s gang), Ruiz shot Cage several times. Cage was reportedly a member of a rival gang.
- Kevin Rivera, age 16: On the night of June 15, a gunman on a bicycle chased Rivera down and shot him in an alley in West Humboldt Park. He was rushed to a hospital but pronounced dead at 1:35 a.m. on Father’s Day. The boy had a history of gang activity and juvenile-court appearances; he had just been enrolled in the city’s summer-work program, and his family had planned to move out of the crime-ridden neighborhood.
- Chavonne Brown, age 31, and her son Sterling Sims, age 5: At 2:30 a.m. on June 28, a gunman entered Brown’s New City apartment through unknown means and shot Brown in her bedroom. He then walked into the bedroom where Sterling and his older brother had been sleeping on their bunk beds, shot Sterling to death, and left the apartment. The older brother (apparently spared because the gun jammed) called 911. No motive was ascribed to the shooter. Sterling had just finished preschool.
- Terrance Graves, age 23: Shortly before 6:00 a.m. on July 2, two men approached Graves at the Washington Heights roadside stand where he sold fresh fruit and copies of the Chicago Sun-Times. They shot him several times and fled the scene. Graves left behind a fiancée and a four-year-old daughter; he had no history of gang activity. Police ascribed no motive to the shooters. His mother told the Tribune that a gang member may have previously argued with Graves over the price of fruit at his stand.
- Darryl Green, age 17: On July 11, police discovered Darryl’s body behind a vacant house in West Englewood. Police were initially unable to determine the cause of death, but an autopsy proved that the boy had been shot. Darryl had no history of gang activity, and police ascribed no motive to the shooters. The boy’s family told reporters that he had recently stopped attending classes at Harper High School, and they said that he may have been killed for refusing to join a gang at school. (WLS-TV reported Darryl’s age as 16, but the Tribune records report that he was 17.)