Living in Violence – The New York Times

In recent weeks, 35 people have died in mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde and Tulsa, drawing national attention to America’s unique gun problem.

During the same time, about 1,800 people were killed and nearly 500 were injured in nearly 1,600 other shootings across the US, including over a weekend at a Los Angeles warehouse. Mass shootings account for less than 4 percent of firearms homicides in a typical year, and most gun violence in the US takes some other form. So I went to Chicago, where shootings are a daily occurrence in some areas, to see what more typical gun violence looks like.

There I met 24-year-old Jomarria Vaughn. After serving time in prison for domestic violence and weapons possession, he has tried to rebuild his life. But his past haunts him.

The last time he was on Facebook, he found out that his best friend had been shot. He’s now trying to stay off the site, fearing posting the wrong thing could piss off the wrong people — and make him a target.

In his neighborhood, he tries to avoid spending too much time “outside the house,” he said. Even if he’s not a target, violence is so common there that Vaughn fears he could be hit by a stray bullet.

“I’m scared,” Vaughn told me. “I’m on my guard all day.”

This is what everyday life is like for many Black Chicagoans. Across the city, the murder rate for black people is higher than it was in the 1980s through the 1990s — a period of violence that fueled a nationwide push for mass incarceration. According to an analysis by the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab, black Chicagoans are nearly 40 times more likely to be shot than their white peers.

The violence is highly concentrated: Only 4 percent of city blocks are responsible for most of the shootings in Chicago, according to the Crime Lab.

Similar differences exist across America. In black and brown neighborhoods there is more poverty and the violence is concentrated around poverty. The violence is so intense that a few neighborhoods, blocks or people are often the cause of most shootings and murders in a city or province. And this is true in both urban and rural areas, said Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist in Princeton.

The inequalities persist as homicide rates have increased across the country since 2020. So while the numbers are typically reported through a national lens, the reality on the ground is that a small portion of the population — disproportionately poor, black and brown — suffers from most of it.

The concentration of violence has another effect: it pushes violence out of sight for most people.

In Chicago, 51 people were shot in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend – a record in five years. Nearly all of the victims were on the south and west sides of the city, which are mostly black and brown.

Only when violence comes closer to home does it usually attract the attention of more people. That happened nationwide this year after mass shootings in schools and supermarkets, where Americans can imagine themselves or loved ones being victimized. In Chicago, public outcry over a shooting last month that killed a 16-year-old boy downtown — a wealthier, whiter area — led the mayor to impose a curfew on minors.

But that’s the kind of violence that poorer minority communities face on a daily basis, with little to no public attention. The vast majority of shootings never make national headlines.

When I spoke to black activists and Chicago residents, I was struck by how almost impartial they were about the violence around them. They all had stories of dead friends and relatives killed in gang shootings, episodes of domestic violence or traffic quarrels, or during minor conflicts over women—the shootings that were sometimes only days or weeks apart. Outside their homes, the sound of gunshots is common.

As I traveled through Chicago, the two worlds were clearly visible. Richer parts looked like a modern, rich city: parking meters and payment terminals built for smartphones, crowds around crowded businesses and residents on electric bicycles and scooters. Poor areas were characterized by disinvestment: houses in disrepair, buildings boarded up and few or no shops.

What I saw is an example of a vicious circle that causes the concentration of violence in an area, experts say. Poverty leads to violence, which leads to divestments, which leads to more poverty and violence. Coupled with a police force that doesn’t solve most murders and shootings, the cycle becomes difficult to break.

By contrast, other communities have a myriad of social supports to keep violence at bay, including good jobs, better schools, well-maintained parks and recreation centers, and responsive policing.

So for most Americans, violence is something they hear about on the news but don’t deal with on a regular basis. But for people in the worst affected communities, violence is a daily reality. Like Vaughn, they come to expect it – and worry they could be the next victim.

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“Diablo Immortal” can be downloaded for free on computers and mobile devices, but there is a store where players can purchase items with real money to improve their avatar’s equipment. Those improvements are not guaranteed; players essentially pay for a virtual scratch card. By some estimates, it can cost thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars to completely upgrade a character.

Belgium and the Netherlands do not get “Diablo Immortal” due to anti-gambling rules banning these types of games. And on Metacritic, a review aggregator, users have given the PC version of the game a score of 0.2 out of 10 — one of the lowest of any Blizzard game.

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