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Donna Marie Williams Headshot

Shooting With My Pen From Violence City

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Why do I love being a writer? Here's why: I get to shoot with my pen, and today I'm shooting from one of the most violent cities on earth.

Years ago, the Wall Street Journal called Chicago "Beirut on the Lake" because of our notorious political reputation. Today I'm calling Chicago "Syria on the Lake" because of the relentless violence. This may be an exaggeration, but it's how I'm feeling today.

Reporting the ongoing parade of weekend murders and attempted murders has become a gruesome ritual among local news outlets. If it bleeds it leads? Well, we have enough blood to fill volumes.

The mass murders tend to get all the attention, understandably, but the drip drip drip of a murder here, a few murders there in my city is just as heartbreaking, but it can make you numb.

That is, until it happens to you.

Sunday morning, some teens shot at some other teens on my block. In fact, it happened directly in front of my house. I heard the one shot, but I'm ashamed to say I didn't investigate. I didn't hear sirens so I assumed I didn't hear what I heard.

Turns out, my car got in the way of the bullet, and two of my windows were shattered.

The good news is that my car probably saved the lives of the intended two male teens who are basically decent, just jobless like the perpetrators no doubt are. Warm weather, no school, guns, teen testosterone, and nothing to do is a formula for danger and disaster.

To make a bad situation worse, when I called the police to file the report, I was told that despite the shooting, no one would be investigating. All I'd get was a report to file with insurance, and I'd have to wait two weeks for that. Death is the only way to get the attention of the police in my city. The bullet, that one solitary bullet, is probably nestled among the blades of grass in my neighbor's nicely manicured front lawn, and no one's coming to investigate. Just wow.

Where are the fathers? Who's in charge? Why aren't there any jobs in my community? I could go on and on with the questions, but really, it comes down to me. What can I do?

As I was sweeping up the glass on the street by the car, I was approached by a young woman. I had a funny feeling about her. She said, "I'm really sorry this happened." She did seem sorry.

I looked at her long and hard. Finally I asked, "Did you see what happened?"

She lowered her eyes, apparently ashamed, and said, "Yeah. I didn't want to say nothing, but they were shooting at guys I know. They wanted them in their gang. My friends didn't want to be in the gang, so..." I knew how this story ended. The windows of my beautiful car, an innocent bystander, were shattered to pieces.

"Well," I said philosophically, "I'd prefer the car get shot than your friends." I meant it, but I was still sorry about my car. When I first got her, a 2001 Volvo S60, I named her Behold!, with an exclamation point. Her purchase had marked a positive turning point in my life. We've had a lot of good times together.

I then asked the young woman, a senior in high school, about her hopes and dreams for the future. She wants to be a doctor.

I pray for our young people, the ones trying to make a good life and the ones who have nothing better to do than shoot.

This rant is not about gun control, but about the problems in our society that create such a violent mindset.

By the way, my mechanic called a few minutes ago. It's going to cost around $400 to get the windows repaired.