Kayden Swann Lake Shore Drive shootout: road rage, guns turn Chicago streets into shooting galleries

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I came back from a trip out of town and on my way back from Midway Airport I could feel the pulse of town.

Cars raced past, engines roaring, as they slipped in and out of the lanes, oblivious to speed limits.

On an unusually warm night, with the passenger side window lowered slightly for fresh air, the noise sounded like an assault.

I closed my eyes and prayed, “Oh, my God, please let us go home in one piece. “

That’s what he happened to.

We could blame the guns for what happened to Kayden Swann, the 21 month old boy who was safe in his car seat when he was hit in the head by a bullet fired by a driver in the grip of road rage on Lake Shore Drive. .

We could blame the angry adults who have chosen to settle a lane merging dispute with a gun for the ordeal the little boy and his family are currently going through. Although doctors at Lurie Children’s Hospital said on Saturday he was out of a coma and continued “to show positive improvements,” he remained on a ventilator in critical condition.

And we could blame law enforcement for not hiding a patrol car somewhere between the grueling fusion and the Shedd Aquarium where the shots were fired.

But blame doesn’t stop the violence.

On Thursday, a driver shot an Oak Park policeman during a traffic stop on Harlem Avenue above the Eisenhower Freeway. The suspect and the policeman were seriously injured.

And while the city was reeling from Tuesday’s Lake Shore Drive shooting on Thursday morning, someone else shot but did not hit three drivers on Lake Shore Drive near Bronzeville and on Halsted Street. at University Village.

As I traveled east on I-55 back from the airport, I saw the heart lit on the horizon and marveled at our ability to project hope in such dire circumstances.

After all, Chicago is battling two pandemics.

But while pharmaceutical companies have come up with a vaccine to fight the coronavirus in record time, civic leaders still haven’t figured out how to eradicate the violence that is strangling the life of our city.

I reached out to Ja’Mal Green, a community activist, former mayoral candidate and entrepreneur, to get his thoughts on: What now? Green and others of his generation have long emphasized the need for businesses to invest in communities plagued by violence.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done,” Green said. “The problem is, we have to be empowered by leadership to do this job. We can start to come together to invest in our community with what little we have. “

Green said his nonprofit Majostee Allstars was transforming a former school building into an 80,000 square foot community center to provide a safe haven for young people.

“We’ve been off track and off track for too many years,” he said. “We have to start implementing these things now. And our leaders – from the mayor to the chairman of the county council to the governor – must make it a priority.

“There is no overnight solution. But there is a short time frame to reduce violence.

“Just as we have worked on COVID-19 every day and found the money we needed to make things happen, we need to do the same for violence. As we did not invest time or money, the violence got out of hand. “

Green has pledged $ 5,000 of his own money for information leading to the prosecution of anyone responsible for the road rage shootout in which Kayden was shot.

It is up to each of us to take a stand.

Because on a beautiful day in Chicago, a madman on idyllic Lake Shore Drive shot a little boy in the head.

Chicago cannot let this be the end of its story.

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