TIME Crime

The Year They Cancelled St. Patrick’s Day

Chicago's St. Patrick's Day parade
Tim Boyle—Getty Images The St. Patrick's Day parade in Chicago on Mar. 11, 2000

It happened in Chicago in 1890. The reason was murder

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

Today Saint Patrick’s Day is a broadly inclusive festival associated with fun, frivolity and, in Chicago, turning the river green. Chicago’s first Saint Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1843 when the city was a mere six years old and the population about 8,000. By 1890, Chicago’s population had swollen to over one million and 17 percent of the city (or almost 180,000 people) were either Irish-born or had one parent born in Ireland.

In this period, Saint Patrick’s Day was an exclusively Irish (or Irish-American) affair, celebrated with a parade, dinners and balls, but for some there was a purpose to it that went beyond mere celebration. In the 1880s, radical Irish Americans flocked to join Clan na Gael —a secret revolutionary society devoted to using force to secure Ireland’s freedom from Britain. Winning Irish independence by force was a costly enterprise and so, while time was spent plotting and planning, writing manifestos, stockpiling dynamite, and penning newspaper columns, fundraising was also a key priority for the Clan. The chief fundraising activities were picnics, balls, and fairs, and Saint Patrick’s Day was just one of the several days promoted by the United Irish Societies of Chicago (UISC), an umbrella group representing many Irish and Irish American organizations, but run by the Clan. In addition to Saint Patrick’s Day, committed Irish republicans also celebrated Robert Emmet’s birthday (March 4); the Feast of the Assumption and the anniversary of Hugh O’Neill’s victory at the Battle of the Yellow Ford in 1598 (August 15); and the anniversary of the execution of the Manchester Martyrs in 1867 (November 23).

During the 1880s, Saint Patrick’s Day was marked with enthusiasm by the Irish and thousands attended functions in halls across the city. The halls were decked out with green ribbon and concerts of Irish traditional music and rebel songs took place. Republican songs such as “The wind that shakes the barley” and “The rising of the moon” were particular favorites. Most popular of all was T. D. Sullivan’s “God Save Ireland,” written in 1867 and inspired by the last words of the Manchester Martyrs as they were led from the dock after being sentenced to death.

It was set to the tune of the American Civil War song “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp!” and by the early 1870s it was regularly referred to as the Irish national anthem. At the Saint Patrick’s Day celebration in 1888, Clan member and medical doctor Patrick Cronin led the crowd in a rendition of the song so loud “that the rafters shook and the [building] seemed in serious danger of collapsing . . . and the street-car horses on Madison Street shied as they passed a block away.”

For Irish nationalists in Chicago the warmer weather associated with the August 15 celebrations meant that an annual picnic was organized. From 1876 this picnic was held at Ogden’s Grove, near the junction of North and Halsted, far from the working-class centers of south Chicago but within walking distance for many living on the north side of the city. If eating, drinking, dancing, and speeches full of fire and brimstone could defeat Britain then Irish chances of success were high. As “Mr Dooley,” the comic, fictional creation of Finley Peter Dunne, wryly observed: “There’s wan thing about th’ Irish iv this town…they give picnics that does bate all. Be hivins if Ireland cud be freed be a picnic, it ‘d not on’y be free to-day, but an impre [empire].” Thousands attended the picnics, designed in large part as a social gathering for families. Entertainment was laid on for adults and children. There was Irish dancing, alongside the “usual paraphernalia” of merry-go-rounds, fat men’s races, thin men’s races, three-legged races, girls’ sack races, long jumps and high jumps, the wheel of fortune, putting the shot and throwing the hammer, lung testers, and “try your weights.” Stalls sold food and drink and in the evening, following the inevitable political speechmaking, bands played a range of Irish and American dance tunes and the celebrations often culminated with a firework display.

The following decade, things were rather different. In Chicago, Saint Patrick’s Day 1890 came and went without any parade. No Patrick Cronin sang “God Save Ireland,” no rafters shook, no horses shied. Why were the Irish so silent that year? In a word: murder. In May 1889, Dr. Cronin had been summoned from his surgery on an emergency. A man had been injured at Patrick O’Sullivan’s icehouse in Lake View and Dr. Cronin was called to help. However, the call for aid turned out to be a ruse. Cronin was lured to an isolated cottage where he was brutally murdered and his naked and beaten body stuffed into a sewer where it was discovered several weeks later.

The police investigation, and subsequent murder trial, captivated the press and public both in Chicago and beyond. It soon became apparent that Cronin’s murder was the result of an internal dispute within Clan na Gael and fingers were quick to point at Alexander Sullivan, the leader of the Clan. Sullivan was never charged with Cronin’s murder but the press coverage surrounding the case forced Clan na Gael and its activities into the limelight. After such public exposure, the society’s ability to act as an effective fundraiser for Irish republicanism was greatly diminished. Many Irish in Chicago had joined Clan na Gael not because they had any overriding interest in Irish nationalism, but as a way of securing a good job; they were primarily interested in what the Clan could do for them, not for what they could do for Ireland. Cronin’s murder forced them to make a political decision and large numbers walked away from involvement in any form of Irish nationalism.

Chicago’s Irish and Irish American population was divided by the Cronin murder—a split that lasted into the early years of the twentieth century —and, despite the conclusion of the murder trial in December 1889 (several of Sullivan’s supporters were convicted), there was no appetite for any celebration of all things Irish on March 17, 1890. In 1891 the Saint Patrick’s Day parade was revived but it was a subdued affair, and it was many years before Saint Patrick’s Day was celebrated with the exuberance we see today.

Gillian O’Brien is a senior lecturer in History at Liverpool John Moores University and the author of “Blood Runs Green: The Murder that Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago” (Chicago, 2015). Follow her on Twitter @gillianmobrien or her personal blog: gillianmobrien@wordpress.com.

Read next: Nine Irish Photographers You Need to Follow

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TIME cities

Watch the Chicago River Go Green for St. Patrick’s Day

The Windy City's annual tradition continues on

St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year, which means some of the major celebrations of the holiday took place over the weekend.

For the Windy City, that meant Saturday was the day that the Chicago River went green, an annual tradition that dates back to 1962.

The dyeing takes about five hours and involves 40 lbs. of powdered green vegetable dye going overboard from a boat as it navigates the river. (The video is soundtracked – as virtually all St. Paddy’s day-themed videos must be – to an old Irish fiddle tune called the “Kesh Jig” – you may recognize it as the basis for Flogging Molly’s “Salty Dog.”).

“You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy this,” Katherine Malhas, who was named St. Patrick’s Day Queen in 1970, told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s a Chicago city celebration.”

And it just wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without it.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

Read next: How America Invented St. Patrick’s Day

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TIME Indiana

Indiana May Allow ‘Baby Boxes’ for Surrendering Newborns

A prototype of a baby box, is shown outside the fire station in Woodburn, Ind., Feb. 26, 2015
Michael Conroy—AP A prototype of a baby box, is shown outside the fire station in Woodburn, Ind., Feb. 26, 2015

A baby box could show up soon to give mothers a way to surrender their children safely

(INDIANAPOLIS) — On the outside, the metal box looks like an oversized bread container. But what’s inside could save an abandoned newborn’s life.

The box is actually a newborn incubator, or baby box, and it could be showing up soon at Indiana hospitals, fire stations, churches and selected nonprofits under legislation that would give mothers in crisis a way to surrender their children safely and anonymously.

Indiana could be the first state to allow use of the baby boxes on a broad scale to prevent dangerous abandonments of infants if the bill, which unanimously passed the House this week, clears the state Senate. Republican state Rep. Casey Cox and child-safety advocates say they’re unaware of any other states that have considered the issue at the level Indiana has.

Cox says his bill is a natural progression of the “safe haven” laws that exist in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Those give parents a legal way to surrender newborns at hospitals, police stations and other facilities without fear of prosecution so long as the child hasn’t been harmed.

Many children, however, never make it that far. Dawn Geras, president of the Save the Abandoned Babies Foundation in Chicago, said safe haven laws have resulted in more than 2,800 safe surrenders since 1999. But more than 1,400 other children have been found illegally abandoned, nearly two-thirds of whom died.

Cox said his proposal draws on a centuries-old concept to help “those children that are left in the woods, those children that are abandoned in dangerous places.”

Baby boxes, known in some countries as baby hatches or angel cradles, originated in medieval times, when convents were equipped with revolving doors known as “foundling wheels.” Unwanted infants were placed in compartments in the doors, which were then rotated to get the infant inside.

Hundreds of children have been surrendered in modern-day versions in place in Europe and Asia. The devices are even the subject of a new documentary titled “The Drop Box,” which chronicles the efforts of a pastor in Seoul, South Korea, to address child abandonment.

Supporters contend the boxes can save lives by offering women who can’t face relinquishing a child in person a safe and anonymous alternative to abandonment or infanticide.

But critics say the boxes make it easier to abandon a child without exploring other options and contend they do nothing to address poverty and other societal issues that contribute to unwanted babies. Some baby hatches in China have been so overwhelmed by abandonments in recent years that local officials have restricted their use or closed them.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has called for a ban on the boxes in Europe and has urged countries to provide family planning and other support to address the root causes of abandonments, according to spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell.

Whether the U.S. is ready for the boxes is a matter of debate. Geras said many parents who surrender their children at safe haven sites need medical care that they won’t get if they leave the baby in a box. Handing the child to a trained professional also provides an opportunity to determine whether the mother simply needs financial support or other help to develop a parenting plan.

“If you use a baby box, you have stripped away that option,” Geras said. “There’s a lot of things that need to be done to improve safe haven laws throughout the country, but that’s not one of them.”

A better approach, she said, is for states to spend more money to promote their existing laws.

Monica Kelsey, a Woodburn, Indiana, firefighter and medic who is president of Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc., said the boxes aren’t meant to circumvent the laws that already exist. Instead, they’re part of a broader approach that includes increasing awareness about the laws and other options available to new mothers in crisis.

“If these boxes are the answer, great,” she said. “We’re trying to come at it from all angles.”

Kelsey, who was abandoned in a hospital shortly after her birth because her mother’s pregnancy was the result of rape, suggested the boxes to Cox and has formed a nonprofit that is working with a Fort Wayne, Indiana, company to develop a prototype. It would be about 2 feet long and be equipped with heating or cooling pads and sensors that would set off alarms when the box is opened and again when a weight is detected inside.

The boxes also would include a silent alarm that mothers could activate themselves by pushing a button.

“We’re giving her the power to do what’s right,” Kelsey said. “We’re hoping that these girls know that once they push that button, their baby will be saved.”

She stressed that the boxes should be viewed as a “last resort” and would include a toll-free number staffed 24 hours a day by a counselor who would first ask the caller to surrender the baby to a person.

The state health department would regulate the boxes. Cox’s bill, which covers children up to 31 days old, also would create a public registry listing box locations.

Kelsey said the bill expands safe haven locations to include churches and established nonprofits that deal with child-welfare issues to ensure that everyone has access.

“We want these locations to be able to accept a child if somebody … thinks this is the only thing they can do,” she said.

TIME chicago

Chicago Mayor to Face Runoff Against County Commissioner

US-POLITICS-OBAMA-PULLMAN
Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduces President Obama to deliver remarks and announce the Pullman National Monument at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in Chicago on Feb. 19, 2015

Emanuel pledged to rev up campaigning immediately

(CHICAGO) — After failing to persuade a majority of Chicago voters to back his re-election bid, Mayor Rahm Emanuel could face an even stiffer challenge in April against a runoff opponent aiming to consolidate the support of residents unhappy with how the former White House chief of staff has managed the nation’s third-largest city.

In a race Tuesday against four challengers, Emanuel discovered it wasn’t enough to spend millions of dollars on TV ads, earn the backing of the city’s business leaders, and secure the hometown endorsement of President Barack Obama. In order to keep the job, he’ll need to win another race in six weeks against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a Cook County commissioner who claims the backing of teachers, unions and neighborhood residents disillusioned with Emanuel.

Emanuel pledged to rev up campaigning immediately, starting Wednesday morning by shaking hands with residents at Chicago Transit Authority stops.

“We will get back out there, talking to our friends and families and neighbors as they make a critical choice about who has the strength, who has the leadership, who has the ideas to move this great city forward,” Emanuel told supporters Tuesday evening.

But Garcia and his supporters said they’d be ready for another contest, with national groups poised to weigh in on the mayor’s race.

“This city deserves a mayor who will put people first, not big money, special interests,” Garcia said. “I will be that mayor.”

Garcia, born in Mexico and raised in Chicago, billed himself as the “neighborhood guy.” He drew on his contacts with community organizers and support from the Chicago Teachers Unions, whose leader, Karen Lewis, considered a mayoral bid before being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

With nearly all the votes counted, Emanuel had 45 percent, Garcia 34 percent, and the three other candidates divided the rest.

During the campaign, Garcia and the three other challengers played on discontentment in Chicago’s neighborhoods, where frustrations linger over Emanuel’s push to close dozens of schools. They also criticized Emanuel’s roughly $16 million fundraising operation — more than four times his challengers combined — and attention to downtown improvements.

The American Federation of Teachers said the election showed “a real yearning” for a mayor who listens to working families. Also, at least one of Emanuel’s other challengers — businessman Willie Wilson who captured more than 10 percent of the vote — said he wanted to meet with Garcia.

Garcia, Wilson and the other challengers — Alderman Bob Fioretti and activist William Walls — also critiqued the mayor on his handling of violence.

Voters noted both issues at the polls, with estimates signaling lower turnout than 2011 after former Mayor Richard Daley retired, leaving the mayor’s race wide open. About 42 percent of eligible voters came to the polls then, compared with roughly 34 percent Tuesday.

Emanuel won his first mayoral race in 2011 without a runoff.

Joyce Rodgers, who is retired, said she believed the school closings cost Emanuel the trust of the African-American community — and possibly the president’s. Most Chicago Public Schools students are minorities.

“There is total disappointment (in Emanuel),” she said. “I believe that Obama’s been let down, too, he’s just not going to say it.”

Still others said they were supporting Emanuel because of his work on job creation, education and safer neighborhoods.

“Rahm has all (those) contacts and he is getting those corporations here, so he is giving people hope they can get a good job,” said Willie King, a 56-year-old retired janitor.

On the campaign trail, Emanuel said his first term saw some tough decisions and payoffs, including budgets that didn’t rely on property tax increases, drawing business to the city, getting a longer school day and raising the minimum wage.

“We have come a long way, and we have a little bit further to go,” Emanuel told supporters.

TIME cities

Rahm Emanuel Seeks to Avoid Runoff in Chicago Mayoral Election

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks with residents at a senior living center during a campaign stop on Feb. 23, 2015 in Chicago.
Scott Olson—Getty Images Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks with residents at a senior living center during a campaign stop on Feb. 23, 2015 in Chicago.

The incumbent must receive at least 50% of the vote in Tuesday's election

It’s Election Day in Chicago, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the four candidates that are vying for his spot spent the past couple of days scrambling for last-minute votes.

Emanuel needs to get over 50% of the vote in order to avoid a runoff in the non-partisan contest. He’s raised about $15 million in the race, according to the Chicago Tribune, and has received vocal support from President Obama, who praised his former White House chief of staff during a visit to Chicago last week. The president has appeared in a radio spot, is featured in Emanuel’s latest ad, and even stopped by a campaign office during his visit.

Emanuel’s biggest challenge comes from Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who has criticized the mayor for spending big in the race—saying it’s proof that wealthy donors are funding his campaign.

According to a recent Chicago Tribune poll, Emanuel had 45% of the vote while Garcia had 20%. Challengers Alderman Bob Fioretti and Businessman Willie Wilson each had 7% of the vote and candidate William Walls held 2% of the vote.

[Chicago Tribune]

TIME Crime

Fifty Shades of Grey Inspired Student’s Sexual Assault, Prosecutors Say

Mohammad Hossain has been charged with criminal sexual assault after an incident over the weekend where scenes from the '50 Shades of Grey' movie were recreated—Cook County Sheriff's
Cook County Sheriff's Office Mohammad Hossain has been charged with criminal sexual assault after an incident over the weekend

Chicago freshman is accused of using restraints and sexual violence without a woman's consent

A University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) college freshman has been accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old female classmate during what prosecutors said Monday was a reenactment of scenes from the movie Fifty Shades of Grey.

Mohammad Hossain, 19, and the woman went to Hossain’s dorm room on Saturday evening where Hossain is accused of using restraints and sexual violence without the woman’s consent, Assistant State’s Attorney Sarah Karr told the Chicago Tribune. After leaving the dorm room, the woman told someone about the incident and the police were called.

Upon initial questioning by university detectives, Hossain confessed to the assault and told them that he and the female were re-creating parts of the movie, which features scenes of bondage and sadomasochism. He also admitted to “doing something wrong,” the Tribune reports. He has been charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, a felony.

Hossain is a student leader at UIC, prompting Cook County judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. to ask how a movie could “persuade him to do something like this?” Public defender Sandra Bennewitz responded, “He would say that it was consensual.”

The movie, which has so far grossed over $130 million in the U.S, has been targeted by groups working to prevent domestic abuse, who say it promotes violence against women.

Hossain’s bail was set at $500,000.

[Chicago Tribune]

Read next: This Guy Really Doesn’t Want You To Know He Saw Fifty Shades of Grey

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TIME Infectious Disease

5 Chicago Babies Have Measles

Large Outbreak Of Measles Reported In California
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Vials of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine are displayed on a counter at a Walgreens Pharmacy on Jan. 26, 2015 in Mill Valley, Calif.

All were under the age of 1

Five infants attending a KinderCare Learning Center in Chicago have measles.

According to NBC Chicago, two of the infants were confirmed with lab tests and three were confirmed based on symptoms, but have lab tests that are still pending. All of the infants are under the age of 1.

The first dose of the vaccine for measles, MMR, is supposed to be given to children starting at 12 through 15 months and a second dose at 4 through 6 years. Given the age of the infants, it is possible they were not vaccinated yet.

“We began the contact investigation to learn about the different places where exposures could have occurred, learn more about the symptoms, and see if there are any other unvaccinated individuals in the home,” says Amy Poore-Terrell, director of public relations at the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Staff and students of the center were told to stay home and away from unvaccinated people for 21 days if they had not received a measles vaccination. Poore-Terrell says individuals at the facility who are unvaccinated are at a risk, and nurses with the department are already in contact with them.

The last exposure at the facility was on Feb. 3 and Poore-Terrell says the health department informed the day care to exclude anyone who was unvaccinated from returning the next day. Since the virus circulates in the air for up to two hours, she says they do not have reason to believe the virus was circulating when other unvaccinated people where at the center. It has not undergone special cleaning.

A case of measles had been reported in Chicago a month ago. NBC reports that only 10 cases of measles had been reported in the state of Illinois over the past five years.

The new cases add to more than 100 cases reported in 14 states in the U.S. this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will likely release updated numbers on Monday.

TIME Research

These Are the Cities With the Most Bed Bugs

530019917
Getty Images

The cities with the most cases of bed bugs in the United States are Chicago, Detroit and Columbus, Ohio, according to a recent promotional study released by the pest control company Orkin.

Orkin calculated the number of bed bug treatments it performed between January to December 2014, and ranked the cities based on how often they were called in. Having bed bugs doesn’t mean a living place is especially dirty, and any home or workplace is susceptible if bed bugs travel on clothing or in luggage.

Citing data maintained by the pest control industry, Orkin says Americans spent around $446 million getting rid of bed bugs in 2013. The bed bug business increased 18% last year, Orkin says.

Here’s the full list of cities ranked from most to least cases of bed bugs:

  1. Chicago
  2. Detroit
  3. Columbus, Ohio
  4. Los Angeles
  5. ClevelandAkronCanton, Ohio
  6. DallasFt. Worth
  7. Cincinnati
  8. Denver
  9. RichmondPetersburg, Va.
  10. Dayton, Ohio
  11. Indianapolis
  12. Houston
  13. SeattleTacoma
  14. Washington, District of ColumbiaHagerstown, Md.
  15. Milwaukee
  16. San FranciscoOaklandSan Jose
  17. RaleighDurhamFayetteville, N.C.
  18. New York
  19. CharlestonHuntington, W.Va.
  20. Grand RapidsKalamazooBattle Creek, Mich.
  21. Omaha, Neb.
  22. Louisville, Ky.
  23. Nashville, Tenn.
  24. Lexington, Ky.
  25. Atlanta
  26. Buffalo, N.Y.
  27. SacramentoStocktonModesto, Calif.
  28. Syracuse, N.Y.
  29. BostonManchester
  30. Charlotte, N.C.
  31. Baltimore
  32. PhoenixPrescott
  33. MiamiFt. Lauderdale
  34. Knoxville, Tenn.
  35. Cedar RapidsWaterlooDubuque, Iowa
  36. MinneapolisSt. Paul
  37. HartfordNew Haven, Conn.
  38. ChampaignSpringfieldDecatur, Ill.
  39. San Diego
  40. LincolnHastingsKearney, Neb.
  41. Kansas City, Mo.
  42. Honolulu
  43. AlbanySchenectadyTroy, N.Y.
  44. Colorado SpringsPueblo, Colo.
  45. Myrtle BeachFlorence, S.C.
  46. St. Louis
  47. GreenvilleSpartanburg, S.C.Asheville, N.C.
  48. Bowling Green, Ky.
  49. Ft. Wayne, Ind.
  50. Toledo, Ohio

 

 

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 23

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Though the “No Child Left Behind” brand is thoroughly tarnished, the law sparked the revolution of data-driven educating.

By Nick Sheltrown in EdSurge

2. To help cities plan for flooding, drought, wildfires and other effects of climate change, the University of Michigan built an adaptation tool for the Great Lakes region.

By Lisa A. Pappas at University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute

3. Teachers are underpaid in America. Early childhood workers earns even less for setting the foundation of all future learning for our children. That should change.

By Laura Bornfreund at New America Foundation

4. Chicago’s ‘Crime Lab’ — which uses scientific research to understand and experiment with innovative ways to prevent crime — could be replicated in other cities.

By Tina Rosenberg in Fixes, at the New York Times

5. To reduce billions of needless miles driving, a startup is bringing the Uber model to the trucking industry.

By Liz Gannes in Re/code

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME portfolio

Go Inside the Lives of Families Affected by Gun Violence

Carlos Javier Ortiz spent eight years documenting the effects of gun violence on communities in Chicago and Philadelphia

Siretha White was at her 11th birthday party when she was killed in 2006. Nugget, as she was known to her family, had been celebrating in her cousin’s home when gunman Moses Phillips, who had reportedly been aiming at a man who was on the porch, shot through the front window fatally wounding her as she ran toward the back of the house. It was a sudden, shocking death that devastated the Whites and many others in their neighborhood of Englewood, Chicago.

The young girl’s story quickly caught the attention of photographer Carlos Javier Ortiz, who had planned on documenting the effects of gun related violence on communities not long before. Shocked by the brutal nature of the incident — and struck by how similar it was to the death of 14-year-old Starkesia Reed, who had been killed by stray gunfire a few blocks away just days before — he approached the White family with the aim of documenting the aftermath.

“The next day I was at the house. There was a birthday cake on the table that didn’t get cut [and] I spent about two hours talking to [Siretha’s] mother’s cousin outside,” Ortiz says. “We talked about a lot of things that were wrong in this neighborhood.”

Englewood often leads the city of Chicago in homicides, though there was a reported 19 percent decrease in 2013.

“[Siretha’s] mother called me that same night, she is a really good friend of mine now, [and said]: ‘I want you to do something. I want you to come to the radio station with me tomorrow and photograph me.’ [And then] she basically let me follow her home.”

Starting that day, Ortiz embedded himself with both the Whites and a larger community, locally and nationally, in an attempt to start a conversation about gun violence and its consequences. It evolved into a project that spanned eight years, and one that saw him travel between neighborhoods in Chicago and Philadelphia. Now, much of the work appears in his newest book, We All We Got, which will be on show at the Bronx Documentary Center in New York until March 22, 2015.

The images that emerged from his project are as powerful and heart-breaking as they are unnerving and thought-provoking. In one photograph, we see Albert Vaughn, who was beaten to death with a baseball bat, in his coffin as relatives mourn. In another, we see the mother of Fakhur Uddin grieving outside the store where he was killed as he opened the family business in August, 2008.

Ortiz sees the often difficult work he produced as a collaboration and would sometimes show his photographs to subjects. And while he sought to preserve journalistic distance, he couldn’t help but feel involved on a personal level with the communities, and individuals, who opened up to him.

“I saw boys and girls growing up and I couldn’t really do anything for them. I would see [a] change in the boys when they got to be 11 [or] 12. They would start walking differently, acting differently,” he says. “They start to pick up all these things from the other guys in the neighborhood, who picked them up from the other guys. So it’s like a circle.”

Indeed, having embedded himself with families for so long he started to witness tragedies unfold around him: “[The White’s] next door neighbor, he would DJ and sell shoes on the side, just to support his family. One day somebody robbed him and just murdered him.”

“It started becoming really hard. I started losing people too,” he adds. “They were my friends, people in the neighborhood were my friends. That was kind of a big wake up call.”

Carlos Javier Ortiz is a documentary photographer and experimental filmmaker based in Chicago. We All We Got is available now. The Bronx Documentary Center will host an opening reception for the book Jan. 24, 2015 and will show Ortiz’s work from Jan 24 to March 22, 2015.

Richard Conway is reporter/producer for TIME LightBox.

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