Chicago gang members say more police won't stop the murders

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Rashad Britt grew up in the Henry Horner projects on Chicago’s West Side, known for gangs and violence. He started hanging out with the members of the Vice Lords gang for safety. “Just for protection…my friends-we gotta get to school. So, we got each other’s back on the way to school,” he says. “And sometimes, that meant carrying a gun and [being] willing to use it.”

His first gun was a gift, given to him as a pre-teen. “I looked at it like that was love. I looked at it like this person loved me, for the simple fact that they wanted to see me protected. They gave me something that was going to protect my life,” he says.

Last Monday, I met with a group of street guys on the West Side. They say the gangs provided structure that their parents did not. “Half of these guys don’t got no mom, either they was crack heads, dope fiends, boosters or something,” says a man who would only identify himself as a member of the Black Disciples. “They moms or fathers was lost to the same gang that we getting ourselves into now.”

“We more like a family than a gang… brothers,” says Kevin Gentry – associated with the Vice Lords. In the gang, someone was kind to them. Their role models sold drugs, had money, clothes cars and girlfriends. “The gangs have become family for a lot of young men here in Chicago and across the United States. They gravitate toward the guys with charisma. They gravitate toward the guys that might protect them. But they really are not protected out there. Too many people are being killed, it’s a false sense of security,” says Tio Hardiman from Violence Interrupters, a group that attempts to predict and prevent gangland shootings.

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