Gun violence in Chicago: then as now

This segment was made for TV news by journalist Elizabeth Brackett. It examines the aftermath of Dantrell Davis’ killing, especially in the Cabrini Green housing projects.

Walking to school: usually a quick and unmemorable trip. That wasn’t the case for Dantrell Davis on the 13th of October in 1992. Just seven years old at the time, Davis was murdered by a bullet meant for a rival gang member, fired by Anthony Garrett.

Just as in 1992, the senseless deaths of dozens of Chicagoans is once again at the top of newsreels. This July, 105 gun deaths occured in Chicago — more than double the total from July of last year (44). The Chicago Sun-Times describes the killing of a nine year-old on July 31st:

Janari Ricks was playing outside about 6 p.m. Friday when someone walked up and fired shots toward a group of people nearby in the 900 block of North Cambridge Avenue, authorities said. He was struck in the chest by a stray bullet and taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead an hour later.

There has been little explanation offered on why deadly crime has continued an upward trend in recent years, despite experts’ efforts.

Media Burn has chosen to highlight Dantrell Davis’ killing via a report made by journalist Elizabeth Brackett (seen on Vimeo above and at Media Burn). Brackett was a lifelong Chicago resident who tragically passed away in 2018 as a result of a biking accident. She reported for PBS Newshour, as well as WTTW, who offered the following statement after her death: “Brackett, who was also a five-time world champion triathlete, was a tenacious reporter, exceptional writer, skilled and insightful host, and, above all, a valued colleague and friend to everyone who worked on Chicago Tonight.”

Brackett was committed to activism throughout her career, describing her efforts in a 1990 Chicago Tribute profile.

“It occurred to me that the same kind of change I had worked for in social work and politics could also be achieved through the media. And the impact of news coverage on the life of the city seemed to me pretty dramatic. So I decided to totally switch careers and try journalism.”

Elizabeth Brackett’s work documenting Dantrell Davis’ murder — and the efforts to stem violence that followed — contributed to increased national attention on Chicago’s gun violence. Despite so many efforts aimed at reducing the prevalence of gun violence in Chicago since then, Brackett’s recognition that “poverty is still the basic, intractable problem here” rings as sharply true today as it did in 1992.



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