The latest tragic victim of Chicago’s third-world crime surge is a young Computer Science major at the University of Chicago. His name was Max Lewis, and he had his whole life ahead of him until a stray bullet barreled through his neck while he was riding Chicago Metro’s Green Line, just blocks from former President Obama’s Hyde Park Home. From the Daily Mail:
A 20-year-old University of Chicago student was killed by a stray bullet while riding in a subway train on his way home from his prestigious summer internship at an investment firm in a downtown neighborhood.
Max Lewis, a rising junior at the university, was seated on a CTA Green Line train at around 6.30pm on July 1 when the bullet flew through a window and struck him in the back of the neck.
According to the description of a GoFundMe campaign, the train was stopped at the 51st Street/Washington Park station at the time of the shooting.
Lewis was rushed to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was taken off life support on the Fourth of July.
Chicago has already seen nearly 400 murders in 2021. There were 20 Windy City murders over the Fourth of July weekend alone, and that’s not even counting the killing of Lewis, who was shot on Thursday.
Remarkably, Lewis isn’t even the first UChicago student to be murdered this year. In January, spree killer Jason Nightengale murdered Ph.D student Yiran Fan along with four others in a spree that stretched from the South Side up to Evanston.
Two murdered students in a span of six months. With 17,000 total students, UChicago’s annualized murder rate over the past 6 months is more than 23 per 100,000. Put another way, if UChicago students were a country, their 2021 murder rate would be higher than Guatemala.
But Max Lewis is more than just the latest body heaped onto the sacrificial altar to Chicago’s failed and corrupt leadership and suicidal policies on crime. To Black Lives Matter radicals, Lewis may have been a “privileged” student at the University of Chicago, one of the most prestigious and expensive universities in the nation, with tuition alone nearly $60,000 dollars per annum (not including room and board), but in today’s Chicago, and increasingly in today’s America, there are only a handful of protected ultra-elites shielded from extreme ultraviolence, and then there is everyone else.
Rahm Emanuel sent his children to UChicago’s affiliated K-12 private school with a police escort in both directions. Mayor Lightfoot (herself a UChicago alumnus) keeps her house surrounded by more than a hundred police officers. Barack Obama’s Hyde Park home is perpetually protected by a lifelong Secret Service detail. The megarich and megaconnected will always be able to buy their own safety. But the middle and even upper-middle-classes, who rely on sane policy and effective policing to keep themselves safe, are increasingly left to their own devices.
Corruption and liberal ideology come first. Safety, security, and civilization come second.
On Monday, UChicago sent this statement to students:
The University of Chicago community is devastated by the loss of Max Solomon Lewis, an undergraduate student who has passed away from injuries related to being shot while sitting in an off-campus Chicago Transit Authority elevated train on Thursday, July 1. Our deepest sympathies are with Max’s family, friends, and all who knew him. He was a talented student and beloved individual who will be greatly missed.
Liberals love to mystify these types of incidents, but the simple fact is these murders are not mysterious. They are not tragic yet inexplicable accidents of nature. Prior to 2015, Chicago’s homicide count averaged in the low to mid 400s. Then, in 2016, many changes hit the city all at once.
First, the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video provided a local George Floyd-style event leading to political pressure on the police. Then, the Obama Justice Department launched an investigation into the city’s police practices (the final report accused city police of, naturally, racism). And finally, right at the start of 2016, the city entered into an agreement with the ACLU that largely abolished stop and frisk and radically reduced the overall number of street stops made by police.
The result was predictable. In 2016, Chicago had more than 770 murders, an increase of more than 50 percent over the previous year. Murders dipped slightly over the next three years as Trump’s law and order policies kicked in, but George Floyd’s death reversed this positive trend. There is a very real chance that Chicago will surpass 800 murders this year.
In this environment, University of Chicago students are effectively lambs to the slaughter.
Even those students who aren’t murdered live in fear of violent crime. One current UChicago student shared his experience in a thread on the web forum Reddit:
A few weeks ago, I got robbed and car jacked at gun point in broad daylight. Two days later, my friend got robbed at gun point (albeit at night), walking with her boyfriend. Excluding myself, I have known three people to get mugged in Hyde Park within the last year. … Although I was carjacked during the day, for obvious reasons, I don’t feel safe in Hyde Park at night. In my personal experience, Hyde Park is not as safe as people and the university may portray it to be. Be mindful of your surroundings and stay in groups and you should be fine. [Reddit]
Perversely, censorious school administrations increasingly bleat about fostering a “safe learning environment” for sensitive students. They’re not talking about protecting students from vibrant and diverse outbursts of urban gunfire. They’re taking about protecting them from mean words by installing a draconian censorship regime dragnet. According to the Regime ideology that has captured American institutions, the imperative to protect sensitive gay, minority, or female students from political incorrectness transcends that of providing basic physical safety — especially if providing real safety for students like Max Lewis would require violating implicit speech taboos.
And so it is unsurprising that despite Chicago Alderman Anthony Napolitano calling the city a “war zone,” the overwhelming share of political pressure at UChicago is exerted in the direction of less policing. An activist faction of students persistently demands the total abolition of UChicago’s police department. Last June, the school’s “CareNotCops” group called for the UCPD’s destruction in a campus newspaper op-ed:
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. Dion Johnson. Their deaths at the hands of police officers, along with those of countless other Black people, have brought calls for police abolition to a fever pitch. Across the United States, hundreds of thousands of people have come together to protest the inherently racist practice of American policing. Police abolition emerged from a long legacy of particularly Black feminist organizing and struggle. We as UChicago students understand our entanglement with the anti-Black racist system of policing, especially with the way our tuition dollars and our “safety” are leveraged to financially support and justify one of the largest private police forces in the nation: the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD).
[UCPD] officers consistently racially profile Black community members and students alike. According to UCPD’s field interview reports from April 2018 to April 2020, 96 percent of those stopped were Black. Of those stopped because they looked “suspicious,” 99 percent were Black. This is not “safety and security” or a reflection of the values of “diversity and inclusion.” Funding a police presence that inflicts daily physical and psychological violence clearly demonstrates that the University values its own profit and property over the lives and well-being of the people it is supposed to serve. In light of the UCPD’s history of racist violence, we demand that the University immediately defund the UCPD by reducing its budget by 50 percent. [The Chicago Maroon]
The racism allegations against UCPD are wholly spurious. A majority of the department’s officers are themselves black. The university’s southern half juts into the Woodlawn neighborhood, which is more than 80 percent black and wracked by violent crime. But facts are irrelevant to this case. This is a moral crusade, and these crusaders are indifferent to basic concerns for law and order, safety, justice, fairness, or even plain common sense.
Students marched and chanted for hours Saturday on the campus of the University of Chicago and in the nearby Hyde Park and Kenwood neighborhoods. Protesters called for defunding the university police force, and funding more student programs.
Protesters were asked who would answer the call if someone is robbed or attacked on campus if the UCPD is disbanded.
“I think with that question the more important thing to look at is not who’s responding per se, because once the initial crime happens we’re not solving any of the underlying issues that are causing communities to hurt in the way that … causes specific people to harm others,” Hurtado said. [CBS Chicago]
Mercifully, UChicago has not abolished its police department quite yet. The school has even — gasp — defended the department’s existence. But such rhetorical bread crumbs have only delivered a Pyrrhic victory. Instead of boldly standing up for the right of police to protect students from thieves and predators, the school is indulging ideologues who are fundamentally hostile to law-abiding civilization. Just two weeks before Lewis’s murder, to celebrate Juneteenth, the school promoted a keynote address by violent revolutionary Angela Davis, an ardent advocate for the abolition of both prisons and police.
In a statement last August, school president Robert Zimmer pledged long-term reforms which include greater use of unarmed security rather than police and, of course, “steps to prevent racial bias.” In February, the school held a public safety forum to discuss its efforts to adhere to the Obama Administration’s 2015 task force on policing reform. The recommendations of that task force encompass all the policies that are currently driving up crime and leading to the murder of UChicago students — and thousands of others. Fewer arrests, more restrictions on use of force, more controls on when and how officers make stops, more affirmative action in police hiring and promotion, and above all, the promotion of th general assumption that police officers are racist and need major interventions to control their behavior.
If UChicago officials were truly serious about keeping their students alive, they would ignore Obama’s 2015 task force and advocate for policies that actually do save lives in crime-ravaged big cities. They would call for more police funding, and more police. They would request the rollback of Illinois’s insane new law abolishing cash bail, reducing criminal penalties, and restricting police use of force. They would demand that stop-and-frisk policies come back and clear illegal guns off of Chicago’s streets. If it truly cared about fostering a safe learning environment for its students, the University would leverage its considerable political connections to demand such reforms.
But that isn’t going to happen. Because for UChicago’s leaders, student safety is at most a PR problem to be managed, not a genuine cause of great concern. Deep down, many at UChicago want the city’s criminals free to murder students with impunity because they are unwilling to stomach basic common-sense, time-tested policies that prevent homicides.
The toxic pattern of liberal policing has already played out in Minneapolis, San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C., and countless other cities. Crime has always been a problem for America’s worst neighborhoods. Once again, liberal leaders are allowing crime to bleed over into the middle class and beyond. And rather than confront the problem head-on, politicians want to keep it a dirty little secret, and gaslight the public into thinking it isn’t happening. Ultimately, there is no number of lives too many to sacrifice for an ideology that puts criminals ahead of law-abiding citizens.
And so we have the tragic case of Max Lewis. When we began this article, we left out one especially heart-breaking detail. The bullet that struck 20 year old Max’s neck did not immediately kill him. At the time he reached the hospital, the once vibrant and active fraternity brother was paralyzed from the neck down, a condition in which he would have remained permanently.
His mother, Dr. Rebecca Rivkin reported to WGN News that Max was able to communicate via blinking, one blink for yes and two blinks for no. And with this method he conveyed his final wish: “If I have to live like this, pull the plug please. Seriously.” Max’s life support was terminated a few days later, on July 4.
As the bodies pile up in Chicago, and as the nation as a whole appears to descend into third-world squalor chaos and dysfunction, we have an opportunity to ask a similar question — do we as Americans have to live like this? Do we have to put up with the incompetent, corrupt, and cowardly leadership from Chicago’s Mayor Lightfoot all the way to President Biden? The answer is no. We don’t have to live like this. This is America — and as Americans we deserve and must demand better.
Rest in Peace, Max Lewis.
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