By Bob Negele
It’s no secret that murders in Chicago are way up this year. It’s also fairly well understood that many, if not most, of these crimes are attributable to gang violence. A recent article in the Chicago Sun Times reports that violence at funerals of high-profile gang members is getting out of control.
Due to the advent of social media, such as YouTube and Twitter, the psyche of these gang members is on display in an unprecedented way.
The article shows a link to a video where a 21-year-old gang member, Sherman Miller, is shown flashing a handgun during the funeral procession for slain rapper Joseph “Lil JoJo” Coleman (from this summer).
Last week, Miller again attended the funeral of another murdered man, and was once again armed with a handgun. During this most recent funeral, however, violence erupted.
Miller and a 26-year-old man were attacked during the funeral, on the steps of a Catholic Church. Miller was shot to death and the other man was seriously wounded.
“We have been working these funerals for a while. These guys are driving in and out of traffic, hanging out of windows and have firearms. This has gotten way out of control. We have to ramp it up to make sure this behavior stops,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
While the Superintendent talks about increasing police presence, funeral violence is nothing new to the gangs in Chicago.
One notable incident occurred in 2005, when a funeral procession stopped to shoot at rivals of an opposing gang.
This does speak to the broader issue of gang violence. The initial funeral discussed, from the past summer, was for a young aspiring rapper, Lil JoJo. A faction of his gang was feuding with a faction of a fellow rapper, Keith “Chief Keef” Cozart. It was in the context of this feud that Lil JoJo was gunned down on September 4th, 2012.
Police have a habit of increasing presence at high-profile funerals (like Lil JoJo’s) but did not for the funeral which cost Miller his life. “Police didn’t beef up their presence outside the funeral because they didn’t anticipate gang violence, sources said. And investigators don’t think the shootings that day were related to a gang conflict. Instead, they suspect Miller may have been shot on the church steps because he had been robbing drug dealers.”
Like many of the murders in Chicago, there have not been any charges brought in connection with the shooting. Police are still working on leads attempting to figure out who brought such violence in a time of morning.