ROGERS PARK — Violent rap videos created by suspected gang members and spread on social media are a "technological kerosene" that inflames neighborhood violence among gang members, police said at a community meeting Monday night.
He called the online interactions, oftentimes made within hours of a shooting of a rival gang member, "technological kerosene."
"This sparks a sort of visceral reaction like that," Waldera said to residents. "I absolutely believe, from intelligence sources, that it absolutely played a part in what we had going on here about a month ago."
This year, there have been 12 "shooting incidents," versus seven last year, Waldera said.
"Within hours of a shooting, they’ll be tweeting each other," he said.
Most of the shootings could be attributed to two gang factions "going at it back and forth, back and forth," he said.
Waldera, a veteran of the police department's gang unit, said in the past five to 10 years many of Chicago's gangs have "fractured."
"The gangs no longer have any hierarchy — no leadership whatsoever," he said. "It's the same gang shooting each other."
In the past, police officials have attributed gun violence to a long-standing conflict between two factions of the Gangster Disciples street gang, one with territory on Howard Street and another with territory on Morse Avenue to the south.
Of those injured this year in shootings, three have been killed, including 16-year-old Keno Glass last month and 36-year-old Darnall Gordon a week before in a Howard Street convenience store, which has since been closed by the city.
In February, 17-year-old Markeyo Carr was gunned down in a Clark Street McDonald's parking lot.
Residents at the meeting not only expressed concern but also a willingness to help stem the violence.
"I’m scared to even go outside," said Brandon Murray, 29, who lives near Howard Street and works with the Howard Area Community Center to stop violence in the community. "People join gangs because they get benefits that they can’t get elsewhere."
Some criticized Moore and the rest of the City Council for being complacent to school closings and the closing of mental health clinics throughout the city.
Moore said North Side organizations, such as Thresholds and Trilogy, have provided even better mental health and social care in recent years.
Waldera said social problems have contributed to the problem, as well as the "no-snitch code" among gang members.
This year, police have confiscated eight guns throughout the district, including two TEC-9 assault pistols with 30-round clips and .44-caliber handguns capable of penetrating officer's bullet-proof vests, he said.
"Those rounds will go through this vest and out the back," he said, calling the firearms "hand cannons."
He said the neighborhood was "making enormous strides" in stopping violence, including a 49 percent drop in major crime since 2012.
But, he said, there was still work to be done.
"Are we there yet? No." he said. "Do we have issues? Yeah, we have issues."
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