Over the past two weeks, the fatal shooting of a mother of four in Chicago has become a nationally publicized tragedy. On August 26th, Nykea Aldridge was walking down a sidewalk, pushing her three-week old baby, when she was caught in the crossfire of two gunmen attempting to take down a man in the surrounding area, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune. While the baby remained unharmed, Aldridge succumbed to her injuries at the hospital, leaving behind her three other children as well.
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. This year has proved to be one of the deadliest in Chicago since the 1990s with the current homicide count already at 475, which is only six less homicides than were seen in the city in all of 2015. Of these 475, 430 of them were gun-related murders. At this rate, the city is estimated to end the year with a record number of murders somewhere between 650 and 700.
With so many gun-related homicides this year, this may beg the question, why is Nykea Aldridge’s case so widely broadcasted? The answer is simple: fame. Aldridge happened to be the cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade, who immediately took to social media following the news of her death. In a tweet posted on August 26th, Wade wrote, “My cousin was killed today in Chicago. Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal." The NBA star has been previously known to speak out about gun control, and this tragedy has only increased his presence on the topic.
While Nykea Aldridge’s untimely death is important to acknowledge in the media, it is not the only homicide case in Chicago that needs to be recognized. Just this year alone, at least 27 children under the age of 13 have been victims of gun violence in the Chicago area. Were any of their names broadcasted nationwide? Were their cases urgently heard and resolved like that of Nykea Aldridge?
With the homicide rate rapidly rising in Chicago, we cannot only take notice of individual, publicized tragedies. We have to raise the standard for how we react to and deal with all crimes, especially murders. According to an article from The Guardian, “police have only made arrests in about 16% of fatal shootings through 28 August this year,” and the rate of arrests in non-fatal shooting incidences is even less at only four percent. This is unacceptable. If America hopes to reverse the trend that has begun in Chicago, then we have to make a change.
To reverse the direction that Chicago is heading, we have to raise awareness. In Aldridge’s case, even the Chicago Police Department admitted that the community’s understanding and high profile nature of the event allowed a resolution to come much more quickly than is typical for the criminal justice system in Chicago.
Plenty of attention has been given to this case, and while it is important, it has been solved. Now is the time to raise awareness for the other 474 homicides, and others to come, so that the Chicago Police Department can be as effective on those cases as it has been on this one. Detectives were able to find both suspects in Aldridge’s shooting within a day of her death because of the publicity her case received. Imagine how quickly the other homicides in Chicago could be solved if they were all given the same type of recognition. After all, don’t all people deserve to see justice, regardless of whether or not they are famous?
Chicago is not the only city in this country that needs to care about all of its people. While raising awareness and support in Chicago is a start, there is no way to begin reversing the murder rate until the entire country can unite and understand the problem as a whole. As seen in the Nykea Aldridge case, it is possible for progress to be made on this issue, but the justice of one celebrity does not equate the justice necessary for an entire city. A resolution can be reached, but it will only be attainable once the country is aware of the magnitude of the entire problem.
Emma Hungaski is an opinion contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.