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Chicago Sun-Times Opinion This Week
Good morning,
The week started with collective outrage from Chicagoans and elected officials, and we completely understood why.
Five men linked to a deadly gang-related shootout late Friday in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood were released from custody without a single criminal charge being filed by prosecutors, including first-degree murder. Who can blame anybody for asking: “If charges can’t be filed in a case like this, when can they?
Kim Foxx had better review every aspect of this case: How the arrests were made, how the evidence was assessed and the curious legal rationale and policies that led to not one charge being filed against anybody. In this case and every case like it, the Editorial Board writes.
On Sunday, the Sun-Times ran a report on property tax exemptions, including exemptions for disabled veterans, with a focus on the exemptions given to Sen. Tammy Duckworth and other Illinois politicians.
In Letters to the Editor, Vietnam veteran Robert Whitfield of Hyde Park said that, yes, there may be a need to examine whether some income level is appropriate for determining the amount of the tax exemption provided. However, he writes, receiving the favorable disability rating needed to qualify for the tax exemption is not easy, and it takes “more than a note from a doctor” for a veteran to qualify for a disability rating.
Lastly, we all know Facebook was down for about 5 hours on Monday, and people couldn’t stop talking about it. Columnist Neil Steinberg writes — How can we miss you if you don’t go away?
— Ismael Pérez, editorial board member

Members of a SWAT team walk along West Division Street near the 1200 block of North Mason Avenue in the Austin neighborhood, where a person was fatally shot and two were injured Friday morning. Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Members of a SWAT team walk along West Division Street near the 1200 block of North Mason Avenue in the Austin neighborhood, where a person was fatally shot and two were injured Friday morning. Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Many aldermen are furious over the handling of a brazen gunfight in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood on Friday in which the suspects walked away without a single criminal charge being filed.
We entirely understand. In a city where authorities should be doing everything to quell a surge in violence, there’s a shoot-out like at the OK Corral, an entire block is endangered and several obvious suspects are detained.
And then nothing.
This was a shocking incident, even in a city that seems increasingly inured to daily violence, caught on video and described by one source as “just like the Wild West.” More than 70 shell casings were found, and many more shots likely were fired. Police apparently arrived in time to witness at least part of the shootout.
Who can blame anybody for asking: “If charges can’t be filed in a case like this, when can they?”
Who can blame anybody for thinking that the handling of this case will embolden thugs to shoot and kill with even greater abandon?
Reporter Tom Schuba wrote in Monday’s Sun-Times that the firefight, which left one shooter dead and two suspects wounded, grew out of an internal dispute between two factions of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang, according to an internal police report and a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation.
At least three individuals reportedly jumped out of two cars and began to shoot into a brick house. Those inside the house fired back. When the shooting stopped, those in the house refused to come out until a SWAT team arrived.
Schuba’s source said police sought to charge all five suspects with murder and aggravated battery. But instead, after discussion with prosecutors, the suspects were released without charges. On Monday, police said an investigation is continuing.
This page has long argued that criminal charges should be brought by police and prosecutors only when there is sufficient evidence to support a case. Too often in the past, cases have been built using torture, false confessions and the strangest stretching of the evidence. But the pendulum can’t be allowed to swing so far in the opposite direction that obvious suspects walk away from crime scenes with impunity.
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board is the opinion voice of the hardest-working newspaper in America. It is headed by editorial page editor Tom McNamee and includes Thomas FrisbieLee BeyIsmael Pérez and Mary Mitchell as members.
What others have to say
Neil Steinberg on Facebook’s Monday outage:
If Twitter is a loud bar, Facebook is a nursing home TV lounge. Yes, 3 billion people belong, but then again, having a landline telephone used to be all the rage too. But eventually, it fell away.
I can use it far less than I do. And so can you.
More editorials we published this week
The Chicago Bears, worth $4 billion, should foot the bill alone for any new stadium
Altgeld Gardens public housing deserves a spot on the National Register of Historic Places
In your words
“There may be a need to examine whether some income level is appropriate for determining the amount of the tax exemption provided. However, I feel the discussion should be based on an informed understanding of the lengthy process involved in determining VA disability ratings; and the income of most of the veterans who are receiving these tax exemptions.”
Robert Whitfield, Hyde Park
Every day we publish submissions from Chicago Sun-Times readers weighing in on issues facing the city and its residents. Send letters to letters@suntimes.com or reply to this email to share your perspective.
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Chicago Sun-Times Opinion This Week

A weekly overview of opinions, analysis and commentary on issues affecting Chicago, Illinois and our nation by outside contributors, Sun-Times readers and the CST Editorial Board.

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