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New Documentary Explores Families’ Pain as Chicago Sets Holiday Record

Community activists and police are working to write a new narrative in Chicago, but the Fourth of July weekend didn’t help their effort. Again, as in years past, there was a record number of homicides in the Windy City. Police report 15 homicides and more than 100 wounded in shootings.

Last year over the July 4th holiday, four people were killed and 46 were injured. Seven were killed and 40 wounded in 2015. Residents are alarmed by the consistent violence, and some say it’s changing their long-term plans for living in the city.

Lisa Butler is a former United Airlines flight attendant whose work as a research assistant motivated her to produce the documentary, What’s Left Behind, about the victims of gun violence.

Butler says, “It was an attempt to document the murders of these young people and the impact on their families and to understand the humanity of those shot. You hear 30 seconds on the news, but I want to know, ‘Who are these people? And I wanted to ask their families specifically who were these people? And, what impact the murder has had on their health.’”

Fifteen families were interviewed for the documentary, but Butler says that’s “only a drop in the bucket.”

As a licensed clinical therapist, Butler discovered paralyzing agony among the family members who lost loved ones. “I have a lot of moms who want to deal…and no resources to help them process it.”

The documentary is still in production, and Butler continues to raise funds for the project. But, as the holiday weekend demonstrates, the devastating impact of the city’s gun violence needs to be documented and shared in hopes of creating a groundswell of support that can marshal its resources for change.

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