Tamar Manasseh started camping out on a street corner in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood in June 2015, after an apparently random shooting left 34-year-old Lucille Barnes dead and two other women seriously injured. The corner, 75th and Stewart, had long been a hotspot for gun violence, and Manasseh had a simple idea to make it safer: Unite with other neighborhood moms and keep watch.

Initially, it seemed to work: As Maya Dukmasova reported for The Trace, for the first several weeks after Manasseh and the other members of Mothers Against Senseless Killings, the group she formed, there were no shootings on the corner where they took up residence. The moms also patrolled nearby blocks, and threw pizza parties to connect with local kids. Young people said they felt safer. And then, just before the two-month anniversary of the moms’ presence, another shooting breached the corner’s newfound peace, killing a 20-year-old on a block they patrolled.

Manasseh didn’t give up. For the two years after that, the area where the moms had become a fixture saw no fatal shootings. But that reprieve didn’t last, either. Just recently, Block Club Chicago reported, members of Mothers Against Senseless Killings and children were shot at. Nearly a decade after she started keeping watch on 75th and Stewart, Manasseh is considering dismantling her group. 

Part of the reason: “Rather than jeopardize kids’ lives, I’d rather not have them out there at all. I can’t risk that,” Manasseh, a grandmother, told Block Club Chicago. She’s also struggled to get help with safety improvements from the city, saying that appeals to her alderman and Mayor Brandon Johnson have gone unanswered.

There’s a human toll to violence prevention work, and Manasseh isn’t the first person to ask if it’s worth it. In a 2022 story for The Trace, J. Brian Charles reported on the heavy cost of keeping Baltimore safe: Three Safe Streets workers, community members who mediate conflicts, had been killed in a short time span. In the wake of their deaths, some began questioning whether sending staffers into potentially dangerous situations was the best approach to stopping violence. 

To Manasseh, the shooting was “personal.”

“Not to say it wasn’t personal before, but it can’t be ‘business as usual’ anymore,” Manasseh told Block Club Chicago. “These families rely on us to keep their babies safe. I can’t keep putting them or mine in danger.”

Now, she’s pursuing another way to keep the corner safe: She hopes to raise money to install security cameras on the block.

What to Know Today

The Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to Illinois’ ban on assault-style weapons on Tuesday, and sent several other Second Amendment cases back to lower courts, including a challenge to the law used to convict Hunter Biden. Though justices are sidestepping new gun rights cases now, they still have a firearms case to weigh in the fall: an appeal concerning the Biden administration’s regulation of ghost guns. [Associated Press/USA TODAY

The U.S. 5th Circuit is the progenitor of many of the Supreme Court’s highest-profile cases, including this term’s gun law challenges, U.S. v. Rahimi and Garland v. Cargill. The federal appeals court, which oversees Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, may also be the justices’ favorite punching bag: Even the most conservative member of the high court, Clarence Thomas, has repudiated the 5th Circuit’s interpretations of the law. Although the circuit court often sees its rulings overturned, the fact that its cases make it in front of justices is influential on its own. How did it get to be this way? [The Texas Tribune

Despite appeals from local officials, Louisiana lawmakers refused to exempt New Orleans’ tourist- and bar-heavy French Quarter from the state’s new permitless concealed carry law — so the city found a workaround. The New Orleans Police Department plans to designate a station in the heart of the area as a vocational technical school, turning everywhere within a 1,000-foot radius into a gun-free zone. [NOLA]  

It’s been a year since two people were killed and more than two dozen others were injured in an outburst of gunfire during a block party at a public housing complex in Baltimore’s long-neglected Brooklyn neighborhood. After the shooting, the city poured new resources into the area, adding police patrols and offering support services. Those efforts appear to be paying off — gun violence has dropped more in Brooklyn than anywhere else in the city so far this year — but some community members wonder if that progress will continue. [The Baltimore Banner

In an unusual ruling, a U.S. district judge ordered rapper Christopher “B.G.” Dorsey — who is on supervised release after spending more than a decade in prison for a gun-related conviction — to have all future songs approved by the government. At the same time, the judge rejected a request from prosecutors to bar Dorsey from “promoting and glorifying future gun violence/murder” in songs and at concerts. The ruling was the latest development in a case that has prompted discussions about the practice of using rap lyrics as evidence to secure convictions. [The Guardian]

Data Point

29 percent — the reduction in violent crime in Baltimore’s Brooklyn neighborhood so far this year, compared to the same time in 2023. Though gun violence has dropped citywide, the Brooklyn area has seen a more dramatic decline than any other neighborhood. [The Baltimore Banner]