In 1974, the city of Chicago experienced a historical increase in the number of homicides; as a result of this violence, 970 human beings lost their lives. Murder trended up from 1965 through 1976, increasing 169 percent. Young Black males between the ages of 15 and 24 represented the majority of those numbers, creating a new wave of anxiety and despair in the hearts of mothers whose children were in that age group. As a result, the Chicago Police Department was over-burdened with murder investigations and unable to accurately address the rising homicide rate. At this juncture in Chicago’s savage history, the city recorded 4,071 aggravated assaults with a firearm. Aggravated assault is defined as an unlawful attack on a victim using a firearm, knife, or cutting instrument, other dangerous weapon, or hands, fists, feet. etc. Unfortunately, what has not been examined—due to the fact that violent crimes were not segregated into specific areas at this point—is how many of the actual number of those victims were gang-related.
There were two local street gangs who waged gang warfare during that era, creating a corridor of death and desolation in neighborhoods throughout the city. The Blackstone Rangers and the Devils Disciples terrorized the Woodlawn and Englewood communities, leaving in their wake the bitter reality that hundreds of Black male children would die before this cultural cataclysm was recorded. During this time, drugs, guns, greed, murder, and misfortune all clustered together to create a period of brutality and death. What’s interesting is that, when shadowed sociologically, it is both simple and complex to see how Chicago, already known for its aggressive past, shifted forward—establishing a new reputation as the “gang murder capital of the Midwest.” When observed with a close lens, it becomes easy to see how the true suffering that plagued the city far surpassed the reported murders.