(CHICAGO) — As the presidential candidates debate the cycle of crime in America, ABC News decided to pedal into one of Chicago’s neighborhoods hardest hit by violence — Austin.
Over the past year, the murder rate in the U.S. has surged by 11 percent, the highest spike in nearly half a century. More than 3,000 people have been shoot and 500 murdered in Chicago alone as of late September — surpassing the city’s total for all of 2015.
Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, has endured more homicides this year than the more populous cities of Los Angeles and New York combined.
Clifton “Booney” McFowler served 27 years in prison for a gang-related murder before returning to his neighborhood in Austin, Chicago, with hopes of steering kids away from his previous path. He joined an organization called BUILD that seeks to stem the bloodshed by offering positive programming to kids — ranging from flag-football to afternoon bike rides.
McFowler and the program’s director, Adam Alonso, admit that it’s challenging to combat crime with limited resources, but they’re making progress with a core group of participants who regularly attend BUILD’s after-school programs.
“A majority of kids in the community come to us because we’re all they have in south Austin. There’s nothing else over there but BUILD. We can offer them opportunities other than gang-banging,” McFowler said.
In response to Donald Trump’s remarks about black and Hispanic people in inner cities “living in hell,” McFowler said, “I’d say to Donald Trump to put some of that money that he didn’t give, to pay his taxes so we can have the resources in my community. So we can thrive like the rest of the communities in America.”
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