FOX 32 NEWS - Chicago’s homicide crisis is getting worldwide attention, thanks to a new documentary called "The Lost Streets of Chicago."
It's a look at the violence in Chicago's neighborhoods through the eyes of a foreigner, and British Broadcasting correspondent Ian Pannell uses rappers like CTC DuWop to tell the story.
“You got to be ready man, I don't know how to reiterate that. Ain't no second chances man. When we turn the alleys here, you can already see the shorty's on top of the cars, they know the cars. The lost streets of Chicago,” Duwop said in the documentary.
Pannell says his mini-documentary has been seen by over 300 million viewers. He decided to explore violence in inner cities after hearing about the disproportionate number of young black males who are homicide victims.
Choosing to focus on Chicago was easy.
“You just passed the three thousandth person shot in nine months. That shocks me, it should shock any journalist. That's not normal, as one of our contributors said, that's not normal. I don’t see how that is a situation of anything other than madness,” Pennell said.
Pannell says he relied on local rappers for access to neighborhoods, because they have an easier time crossing gang boundaries where turf wars can be dangerous.
“Many of the rappers have to deal with different sections of the community through music, through promotion, they have a level of street credibility, which allows you to get access to areas that otherwise would be difficult if not dangerous to go into,” Pannell said.
With rappers leading the way, viewers get a taste of the filming of a new video, and a lesson in survival.
West side rapper Bo Deal helped introduce Pannell to the street scene.
“I never seen so many guns like now, ever. The girls shooting it. It's like they dropped off, somebody dropped off crates of guns in everybody hood. The lost streets of Chicago,” Bo Deal said.
Pannell has reported on conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. He was still amazed at what he found in neighborhoods on Chicago's South and West Sides.
“I haven’t seen that many guns in civilian areas, in civilian hands, outside of a conflict zone. Normally called a war zone,” Pennell said.
The mini-doc includes beautiful shots of Chicago's downtown, and CDC Duwop tells part of his story from out on the lakefront. But Pannell spends most of his time in the neighborhoods, hearing from young black men and victim's families. Despite his disturbing portrait of certain areas, he told me he sees Chicago as wonderful city where he wouldn't hesitate to bring his family for a vacation.
“I'm not going to make any bones about this. This was specifically aimed at trying to tell a story of life and death in some of the more difficult parts of Chicago. This isn't a piece on Chicago per se,” Pannell said.
Pannell says he's surprised that Chicago's violence hasn’t' been a bigger issue in the presidential campaign. As for the police, he told FOX 32 that Chicago police are doing, quote, "an incredible job in very dangerous circumstances."