One of our University of Chicago peers was viciously murdered on Thursday by a stray bullet on a Chicago Green Line CTA elevated train. Like countless other UChicago students, Max Lewis was traveling home after his summer internship downtown, when a bullet came through the train window and struck him in the neck. Lewis passed away after being taken off life support on Sunday. He was 20 years old.
As a rising junior at the University of Chicago, Lewis was excelling. Reading about Lewis’s life, he sounds like the type of person we all hope to be—full of joy, surrounded by friends, and excited for his promising future. He was living in Chicago for the summer to complete a prestigious investment banking internship.
Lewis didn’t have to work in person, but he was such a friendly, dedicated individual that he chose to make the trek downtown. His young life was senselessly cut short when his train ride home was interrupted by yet another Chicago shooting.
According to the police, Lewis was not the intended target of the attack. The case is still being investigated, and no arrests have been made.
“Max was a talented student and beloved campus leader and friend who will be greatly missed,” UChicago stated in a university-wide email. “He was pursuing a double major in economics and computer science, treasurer of the Promontory Investment Research RSO, president of the fraternity AEPi, and actively involved in the student community on campus.”
When reflecting on the loss of his friend and fraternity brother, Zachary Cogan rightly slammed Chicago’s inexcusable violence. “This happens all the time in Chicago,” he emphasized to the Chicago Sun-Times. “It needs to end.”
Cogan wasn’t exaggerating. Lewis is the second UChicago student this year to have his bright future cut short by a deadly shooting in Lightfoot’s lawless city. After receiving a bachelor’s degree at Peking University and a master’s at the University of Cambridge, Yiran Fan was a fourth-year Ph.D. at UChicago. He’d spent his life traveling the world to pursue academics, only to be gunned down in a South Side parking garage in January. He was 30 years old.
Chicago Violence Is Out of Control
Violence consumes Chicago. During the Fourth of July weekend, more than 90 people were shot in the city, including a 6-year-old girl and her mother, two police officers, and a group of six individuals. Between late Friday afternoon and Monday evening, at least 16 people were murdered in shootings, while two were “fatally stabbed.”
The list of victims is long. A member of the National Guard was murdered in Chicago while leaving a house party. At a mere 19 years old, he was on temporary leave from his basic training, before he was murdered in cold blood. “He was fighting for our country,” his sister said. “He comes to Chicago, and he gets killed in the streets.”
Four children under the age of 14 were also injured in shootings. A 67-year-old man died after being stabbed on a CTA bus. Meanwhile, the city became even more volatile, as “hundreds of young people and Chicago police officers flooded the Loop on Sunday, sometimes clashing while fireworks exploded and some dumpsters caught fire.”
Lightfoot’s city is falling to pieces, but she refuses to effectively address the problem. During a recent press conference, she made the absurd assertion that Chicago “crime is on the decline.”
“All of our major indices show a decline in our crime, and our homicides and our shootings year over year are down,” she claimed. This is such a blatant lie that it’s offensive Lightfoot thinks her fellow Chicagoans are dumb enough to fall for it. We aren’t.
According to NBC News, Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown says “Homicides are up by 5 percent and shootings are up by 17 percent this year compared to the same period last year.” As of mid-June, the Chicago Sun-Timesreports that 195 more people have been shot in Chicago in 2021 than in 2020, reaching a total of 1,587. This count doesn’t include the 90-plus victims like Lewis who have been viciously attacked since then.
Brown also says criminals are being released and—wait for it—committing more crimes. Imagine that: when Lightfoot fails to hold criminals accountable, they’re emboldened to keep terrorizing her city.
Our Leftist Peers Still Want to Abolish the Police
As if leftist radicals’ response to Chicago’s surging crime rates couldn’t get any dumber, members of our university’s incoming student government plan to “work toward the disarming, defunding, and abolition of [the University of Chicago’s Police Department (UCPD)] by amplifying the work of groups such as CareNotCops.”
As a majority black and Hispanic police force, the University of Chicago’s Police Department (UCPD) is the “primary police agency” on UChicago’s campus. If it weren’t for the bravery and dedication of the UCPD, I wouldn’t be safe crossing campus, and my parents wouldn’t allow me to live in the city.
CareNotCops, in contrast, is an extremist campaign dedicated to eradicating the UCPD. Among other endeavors, it’s self-described as “demand[ing] that UChicago end their continued harm on the South Side of Chicago by abolishing the UCPD.”
Last August, CareNotCopsstaged a week-long occupation outside Provost Ka Yee Lee’s house. Using a megaphone, one of the occupation’s organizers led a group chant, shouting “racist -ss cops.” CareNotCops also organized a January teach-in to discuss eradicating the police. And the campaign continues to promote hatred toward law enforcement. During a May retreat, more than 200 students and community members gathered to “creat[e] art.” Such “art” included a large sign that said, “Cops off campus, cops off earth.”
Unsurprisingly, the CareNotCops socialmediaaccounts are active, but they’ve failed to mention Lewis’s death. Apparently, our peer’s demise doesn’t fit their narrative.
Chicagoans Deserve Better
The tragedy, of course, is that Chicago isn’t just Lightfoot’s city. Nor is it the playground for anotherCHAZ-inspired fairytale gonewrong. Chicago is home to almost three million Chicagoans, including me.
This home is jeopardized when our incompetent mayor fails to keep criminals off the streets and lies to her constituents. “CareNotCops” exacerbates the problem by prioritizing hateful, childish sloganeering over law and order.
I’ve ridden the CTA countless times. When my friends and I board the train, we shouldn’t fear that we’ll be murdered by stray bullets. When we sit down on the bus, we shouldn’t worry that we’ll be knifed to death. That’s absurd.
Thanks to the incompetence of Lightfoot, this lunacy has become a reality. And if CareNotCops and our incoming student government representatives succeed in defunding the UCPD, the violence will continue to soar.
Beyond my parents and younger brother, UChicago is the only community in which I’ve ever felt truly at home. But, a home is not a home when you’re terrified for your life. Lightfoot and the CareNotCops organizers should be ashamed of themselves. Our city deserves so much better.
In Lewis’s honor, his fraternity launched a GoFundMe to raise money to transport his friends to the funeral in his hometown of Denver, Colorado. The remainder of the funds will go toward charity.
“Max was an intelligent, caring, compassionate member of the UChicago community and a dear friend to many,” the GoFundMe page reads. “He is known amongst friends, peers, and classmates for his kindness, goofiness, grit, impeccable work ethic, and most importantly, his unfailingly genuine soul.” Speaking for the entire community, the page says Lewis “will be sorely missed.”
*The views expressed in this article solely represent the views of the author, not the views of the Chicago Thinker.
Audrey Unverferth is the Chicago Thinker's co-founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2022 with a B.A. in Russian & East European Studies (With Honors) and Law, Letters, and Society. In her free time, Audrey loves to collect books, swim in the ocean, and camp with her family. Follow her on Twitter @audrey__unver or email email@example.com.