Tipping Point: Gang members speak out about the cycle of violenc - FOX 32 News Chicago

Tipping Point: Gang members speak out about the cycle of violence

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The lure of the gangs often stems from the money, clothes and cars that seem to come easy with a life tied to selling drugs. But, the seduction of the streets also comes with the very real risk of violence as we learned from talking to gang members who gave us a candid look at crime and the consequences.

In the shadowy street corners on Chicago's West Side is where drug dealers and gang bangers spend their nights. In the 15th police district, there have been at least 65 shootings and 17 murders so far this year.

The violence is something one 19-year-old, who we'll call "D," is all too familiar with.

"My closest friend, a couple of my closest friends been killed," "D" says. "Ain't even been over, what, six months, two of my friends been killed."

Many shootings in Chicago are inextricably tied to drugs. "Cortez," as we'll call another 22-year-old we spoke with, just got out of prison after serving time for possession of heroin.

Responding to a question about when he started selling, "Cortez" says: "Eleven years old. It gave me good money, nice little money. Nice profit, enough to get by."

He says he was lured into it watching his older peers.

"You go to school, you're playing with the basketball, third grade, fourth grade. Everybody else around you out selling on the corner, dress nice, looking nice, nice cars, throwing money up, so now you looking like, I think I want to do that," he explains.

But sometimes the dealing is out of desperation. "D" has a 1-year-old daughter, but no job.

"I don't like selling drugs, but sometimes it be hard to get a job," he adds. "So you ain't got no choice, 'specially if you got a daughter or a son, how they gonna eat. You got to get out and do something."

Cortez says disputes over drug dealing territory or money have resulted in him being shot at numerous times. He says many of the shootings that make the news don't involve victims that are as innocent as they seem.

"Can't just point the finger and say ‘well, they just hit a kid, they just shooting the wrong person,'" "Cortez" tells FOX 32. "Nine times out of ten you see 13, 14-year-old kids dying, everyday there on the news, but them be the ones that shooting."

"They gonna make you look good in front of the camera," "Cortez" continues. "Oh, he was a good kid, he was this and that, but little JuJu's a good guy. But JuJu just robbed Big Homey last night, now he dead. Now they go, they killed a little boy for nothing, they need to get the guns off the street. People be knowing what's going on man."

But sometimes the violence does injure or kill those who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Cortez says most of the time shootings are about sending a message.

"The message is like don't f**k with me, don't do the wrong thing, don't try to get over on me nothing, that's basically the message," he explains.

And despite the best efforts by police, those on the street will tell you the gangs, drugs and the violence they breed will keep their grip on the city's dark side.

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