Fourth of July Weekend Death Toll in Chicago Was Higher Than Highland Park Mass Shooting but Mostly Ignored and Overlooked by the Rest of the Nation

Angela Gregg with her 4-year-old son Mychal Moultry, Jr.

Angela Gregg’s 4-year-old son, Mychal Moultry Jr., known to loved ones as MJ, was killed by a stray bullet while getting his hair braided last year during Labor Day weekend in Chicago’s South Side neighborhood Woodlawn.

She remembers him as a genius who was set to skip ahead to kindergarten after just two weeks of pre-school. He was full of life and didn’t call her “Mom” or “Mommy” but “Happy.”

Gregg recalls having to move mountains to get any public and media attention on his case. Like many people, she was horrified by what happened in Highland Park, Illinois, on Monday, but she couldn’t help but notice the difference in reaction to the tragedy that shattered her world. MJ was Gregg’s only child, and in the 10 months since his death, no one is in custody for the boy’s homicide and the investigation remains open.

But she was not surprised by the attention and support Highland Park received because it’s a predominantly White Chicago suburb, she says. Gun violence is so normalized in Chicago’s South and West sides, that it doesn’t receive the same concern, she says.

Angela Gregg, center, is consoled by police Cmdr. Roderick Watson and community members during a prayer vigil days after her son, Mychal Moultry Jr., was killed Labor Day weekend last year.

“I thought there would be more outcry for a 4-year-old whose life was taken away, and I just didn’t see that,” Gregg says. “We see it all the time, the difference in how Black and Brown children are treated.”

As the nation was shocked by the premeditated mass shooting in Highland Park, residents an hour away on Chicago’s South and West sides were grieving a death and injury toll that surpassed that of Highland Park. This July 4 weekend in Chicago, at least eight people were fatally shot and 68 injured by gun violence.

Gregg and community advocates say they aren’t comparing which tragedy is worse and stand in solidarity with the Highland Park community. They just want to see the same compassion and urgency to find answers as seen in Highland Park in the South and West sides — where they say there’s almost an expectation and acceptance of gun violence with little attention or resources paid.

According to Chicago Police Department data, the city of Chicago saw a 53% decrease in homicides this year compared to last July 4 weekend. But residents say that doesn’t ease the sense of exasperation they felt following this past weekend’s gun violence.

In 2021, Chicago experienced one of its deadliest years in the last quarter-century with almost 800 homicides. MJ was among the youngest victims. In the summer alone, 1,606 people were shot in a single three-month period.

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SOURCE: CNN, Jacquelyne Germain