South Lawndale’s rate for simple assault surpasses those in Hermosa over the course of four years

By Stephania Flores ’20, Yareli Garcia ’20, Nayeli Hernandez ’20, and Samantha Ortiz ’20

During each July from 2015-2018, the rate of assaults in South Lawndale was triple those in Hermosa, with South Lawndale having a total of 75 assaults and Hermosa having a total of 23 assaults for every 10,000 residents. 

How did the Pritzker Press get there?

The Pritzker Press gathered and obtained the data that the Chicago Data Portal Crimes: 2001 to Present. According to the data portal, information ends up in this data by being gathered from the “Chicago Police Department’s Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting system.” The Pritzker Press gathered this data to determine simple assault in Hermosa and South Lawndale during each July from 2015-2018. For each year, the general population data was gathered from using the Community Data Snapshot of Hermosa and the Community Data Snapshot of South Lawndale.

The rates were calculated by dividing the number of assaults by the population of the area then multiplying that result by 10,000 (both the number of assaults and the population correspond to the data from July and its specific year). 

What’s the significance of this?

Only simple assault, which is an assault without the use of a weapon, was analyzed because it is a type of assault that is less discussed. Moreover, in the month of July from 2015-2018, the month of July was analyzed due to the month being in the summer therefore resulting in more crime since people are outside more often.

Hermosa teen’s experience

Dorian Torres, who is 19 years old, used to live in the Hermosa neighborhood in an apartment with his mother, his three brothers, and his grandparents. Currently, he is attending Goshen College, but he explained how, during his time attending Marine Leadership Academy, he “saw [violence] through a window or heard cop cars flying through the streets and gunshots.” Torres used to see a lot of gang-related activity because he used to live in a gang territory where the gangs were at war. 

Torres used to live in Hermosa during the years of 2015 to 2018. Torres saw and heard the violence that was in Hermosa during this time. As the Pritzker Press found out in Hermosa, the rates of assault per 10,000 residents from each July of 2015 through 2018 are as follows: 3.1 assaults, 1.2 assaults, 1.7 assaults, and 3.3 assaults. The rates of assault vary throughout; for example, from 2015 to 2016, there was a major decrease in assaults; however, in 2018, the assaults almost doubled from those found in 2017. 

July is during the summer where kids are out of schools, plan more activity outdoors, and go on vacation. For Torres, he believes that summertime is a time where everyone is enjoying themselves outside sometimes with their families, such as going to the park. He also believes that, since there is no school and people are enjoying their summer, teen violence  seems to increase. 

Torres worked at After School Matters, but during his free time, he would play basketball inside and outside of school with his friends. Now, he lives in a rented apartment with his mom and his brother.

South Lawndale residents’ experiences

In South Lawndale, the rates of assault per 10,000 residents from each July of 2015 through 2018 are 1.4 assaults, 2.7 assaults, 4.1 assaults, and 2.7 assaults respectively. Someone who has witnessed the South Lawndale crime and has lived in that neighborhood from 2015-2018 is Jorge Guevera. Guevera is a previous resident of South Lawndale, and he constantly visits and thinks about the sadness regarding the crime. He believes that those who commit the crimes are taking away the liberty from the innocent people. Guevera related South Lawndale’s violence with that of Mexico. For example, he mentioned that people in Mexico are hiding and they are not being able to go out and enjoy life. He believes that “the government in the U.S. controls us just like the cartel.” He added how “we the people want our freedom, which costs nothing.”

Similarly, Sylvia Guevera, Jorge’s wife, said “There are many murders in the news, and we need to be safe.” Sylvia said how her nephew, among others, had his own gun license for safety and self-defense. However, Oscar, Silvia’s nephew, was tragically shot and killed due to the violence.

Another South Lawndale resident who has seen the assault on her neighborhood is Maria Manríquez. Manríquez has been living there for 14 years and shares how current crime “happen[s] here and in many states, from what I have heard. [Also,] I have heard that there has been an increase [in crimes].” She shared her own experience with assault: “I have suffered abuse from my partner.” 

Manríquez mentioned how students “have been beaten up simply because they do not accept marijuana when [they are] offered.”

What do the experts say?

 According to the Illinois State Police, “Police officers must take action to protect the victim of domestic abuse.” Some actions that are being taken are arresting the abuser when there is enough evidence, helping the victim gets her or his personal belongings from the house, “providing the victim’s transportation to a safe place, inform victim of the procedures” that needs to happen, such as filing charges, filing a police report, and “provide the officer’s name and ID# to victims.” 

In a PBS News Hour interview with Lance Williams of Northeastern Illinois University and Tamar Manasseh of Mothers and Men Against Senseless Killings (an organization in Chicago that puts “eyes on the streets, interrupt[s] violence and crime, and teach[es] children to grow up as friends rather than enemies”), Williams mentioned how Manasseh’s work is incredible, and how “it would be great if she was given more resources to expand and ramp up the kind of environment.” Manasseh replied to Schifrin’s question about the violence involving gangs: [police superintendent] “Eddie Johnson gave a press conference where he touted technology as what had helped bring down the numbers of violent crime in Chicago…(INAUDIBLE) make a difference on the ground every day.” In addition, Manasseh said that there are numerous organizations just like his that are making “their own way [in contributing] to making communities better.”

What’s next, Chicago?

In Block Club Chicago, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th Ward, in “an email newsletter to constituents” announced how proud he is towards “the police district for taking steps to ‘keep our community safe.” The 35th Ward includes parts of the neighborhood of Hermosa and Logan Square, and his newsletter was a response to the recent gang crimes happening in April and May of 2019. He mentioned how he is “committed to tackling the root causes of crime at the city level” by working with Lori Lightfoot, recent Mayor, and his team to “pursue a public safety strategy that invests in education, afterschool programs, and job programs.” This is based on research, where the best way to reduce crime in the city is by “investment in our communities and our youth.” Also, his newsletter mentions how one of the shooters was taken into custody.

To wrap up

The data that was gathered showed how the rates of assaults increased over the course of four years in both South Lawndale and Hermosa. South Lawndale had more simple assault per 10,000 residents, but the reason for the difference in the assault rate is because the population is greater in South Lawndale.