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Tara Kadioglu/MEDILL 

South Shore residents pack a bus traveling down 71st Street in the middle of the afternoon.

Congressional race far from minds of South Shore residents, who worry about their safety

by Mariam Khan
Oct 04, 2012


Tara Kadioglu/MEDILL

Marcus Lewis, a third-party candidate running against U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. speaking from his home in Matteson, IL.

The whereabouts of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is not a concern to his constituents in South Shore because they are much more worried about their well-being. South Shore, a neighborhood in the 2nd District, is seeing an alarming increase in gun violence. The murder rate is more than 30 percent higher than last year. 

“It doesn’t matter who’s in office – no one cares about us,” said Antoinette Holmes, of South Shore. She said she doesn't think about Jackson or his wife Sandi. "I only care about my babies.”

South Shore, dubbed “Terror Town" by its residents, is a predominantly black neighborhood located along Chicago’s southern lakefront. The 2.97-mile wide area has a long history of crime, open-air drug markets and violence.

So far this year, 21 people have been killed, compared to 16 last year, according to the Chicago Police Department. In the last 28 days, there have been 49 robberies in the area and 14 shooting incidents resulting in three deaths.

“In my opinion, this is the wild, wild west,” said Marcus Lewis, the Independent candidate running against Jackson. Lewis, a mail handler for the U.S. Postal Service, said cheap ammunition is the problem.

“You can have all the guns you want to, but under the bill I plan to pass, you won’t have the ammunition," he said. Raising prices of ammunition will deter those who normally wouldn’t hesitate to reach for their guns, he said.

The influx of violence, according to Brian Woodworth, the Republican candidate, is directly related to a lack of jobs. He said the current unemployment rate in South Shore is approximately 40 percent.

Young adults don't care about getting an education and finding better work, Woodworth said. “I find it really difficult to believe that [Jackson] cares or understands what’s going on at the local level," he said.

Holmes, who has lived in South Shore for the past 12 years, is only focusing on her young baby.

“Jackson isn’t concerned about our babies being killed,” she said. “You don’t see him coming out here to see us."

Jackson did not respond to repeated interview requests. His official website does not list safety as one of his campaign issues.