The Cost of a Safe Haven in an Open Drug Market Amid Gang Territories

CHICAGO—Some locals call it the pill capital of Chicago. In broad daylight, drug peddlers associated with gangs hold up bags of drugs and solicit business from addicts from all parts of the city and beyond. Several gangs divide up the area, which is on the West Side of Chicago, anchored by a major commercial corridor on Madison Street in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. Gang fights and shootings are common scenes. Few seniors or children walk by, for fear of getting caught in a crossfire. It’s in the heart of all the drugs, gangs, and shootings that a brand new, million-dollar outdoor roller rink was built by the city with cannabis tax revenue, just ahead of summer—traditionally the most violent season in Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the rink gives the neighborhood kids a precious haven amid the drugs and violence. “What we must be about, folks, is claiming the …

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