'Yummy' Sandifer: Is Chicago any less violent since his murder? - FOX 32 News Chicago

'Yummy' Sandifer: Is Chicago any less violent since his murder?

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago is about to mark an infamous anniversary that shocked the nation.

Twenty years ago, 11-year-old Robert "Yummy" Sandifer was executed by fellow gang members after he killed a 14-year-old girl. Sandifer, who had a lengthy criminal record even at such a young age, was shot in the back of the head and left for dead in a pedestrian walkway at 108th and Cottage Grove. The crime was so shocking it made the cover of Time magazine.

1994 was a violent year in Chicago with 930 murders. By comparison, in 2013 there were only 415 killings. But for many, the streets of Chicago don't feel any safer.

“I remember a city on edge, I remember even my surroundings on edge,” said Diane Latiker.

She has lived in the Roseland neighborhood, where the murder took place, for 30 years. In 2003 she founded the anti-violence organization Kids Off The Block.

In the past two decades, though, she said one thing hasn't changed.

”It's still people who feel they have no other power than the gun,” Latiker said.

Cousins James, 20, and Curtis Stagger, 16, take part in her program.

“I got like seven friends who have been killed,” Curtis told FOX 32, three in the last month alone.

“You could be innocent and still get shot. It's dangerous everywhere,” he added.

A former gang member who was 17 when Sandifer was shot, said the streets are more dangerous now because gangs have splintered and no one is in charge. Latiker agrees.

“The danger is, I'm not telling anybody to come shoot you personally, I'm just shooting. So if you be in the wrong place at the wrong time and I'm just shooting, then, oh well,” Latiker said about the attitudes of gang members these days.

And social media nowadays allows feuds to blow up at anytime, resulting in gunfire where the victims are often innocent bystanders.

“I guess there's more guns out here now, everybody got a gun now so, I guess that's why you could say it's worse, anybody shooting, it's all messed up. Everybody into it with somebody,” said James.

Police may be doing what they can, but for people in some neighborhoods it may never be enough to really change things.

“I look over my shoulder a lot. Every day. Every day I step outside, even when I step on my porch, I gotta watch,” mused Curtis.

Latiker said one positive difference she sees from 20 years ago is a sense in communities that violence is everybody's problem.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has said time and time again that the root cause of the city's violence is gangs, guns and drugs. Ironically, it's the same cause that his predecessor pointed to 20 years ago.

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