What About Chicago ?

In the days since the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial we have heard much speculation about the justice of the verdict as well as debates over the state of race relations in this country. People have decried the death of a young man who was seemingly doing nothing wrong.

I certainly understand this distress indeed I don’t think there’s anybody who denies that all of the events of last year were horrible. However I can’t help but wonder why so much attention is focused on the death of one innocent person while we seemingly ignore the deaths of dozens of young people almost every day.

On the streets of Chicago many innocent young men are being gunned down by other young men. In fact in many parts of the city it is probably less common for a teenager to be unarmed that it is for him to be armed. And in this case it is black on black violence for the most part.

It seems to me that we really need to examine this ongoing tragedy rather than focus on one frustrating event. I know politicians talk about it and I know there are people truly concerned about it but it seems like all we do is pay lip service.

Perhaps part of the reason for this is because there are some disturbing questions that have to be examined when we look at this phenomenon. In Chicago as well as in other large cities the violence is largely minority on minority. Certainly there is some Hispanic and black violence but for the most part it is black on black. Why is that?

Obviously poverty has some role in that but we have poverty in other parts of the country. In the Ozarks and Appalachia for example there is poverty to rival the worst Chicago ghetto and yet we do not see the young men of those communities gunning each other down.

Obviously I am not suggesting that blacks are somehow more violent than whites or that whites are somehow more noble than blacks that is certainly not the case.

But there is something going on in our inner cities that needs to be addressed. As Bill Cosby and others have observed certainly one factor is the lack of fathers in these communities resulting in young men growing up without any examples of how to behave and once they reach a certain age with nobody in a position to discipline them.

Again poverty is obviously also factor as well as the lack of education and both of those need to be dealt with as well. Limiting access to guns will also be helpful but somehow I doubt it will stop all of the violence (knives can killed just as much as guns and though the death toll may be lower the underlying violence won’t go away).

I’m not sure I have any great insight to offer as to a solution if I did I’d probably be working somewhere else but I do find it interesting that we put so much focus on one trial and then pay lip service to an ongoing tragedy that occurs every day.

Author: PATRICK EDABURN, Assistant Editor

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4 Comments

  1. My amateur,guess is crowding any group having high unemployment, poverty, drug and other criminal opportunities AND easy availability of guns, produces the devil’s playground for violence and murder. Mix in returning ex-cons to the neighborhood, degrading police and biased legal tactics plus little chance for escape.

  2. The Jews in Detroit were just as violent – The Purple Gang…

  3. little chance for escape

    Mr Dduck with those few words you have said it all.

  4. Here in Kalamazoo a new approach is being tried. David Kennedy has met with police, community activists, and religious groups to explain his approach to limiting crime. His proposition is that it is usually only a small group that do most of the damage; interacting with that group (known to police and neighbors alike) can make a difference.

    Kennedy is the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College and Criminal Justice in New York City.

    Kennedy said no matter the community, it’s clear that a new approach to combating inner-city homicides needs to be employed.

    He cited an excerpt from his book, in which he discussed how, after several months of arrangements, 40 men considered the most dangerous in Cincinnati were asked to attend a meeting that involved police, social services representatives and mothers whose children were dead; victims of violence.

    Kennedy detailed a woman whose son, an African-American teen, was defying the odds by leaving his troubled neighborhood and heading to Indianapolis to join a work corps program. On the day he was supposed to leave, however, her son didn’t return home. Days passed before his body was found, discarded behind a store’s Dumpster.

    The detail Kennedy gave in describing the meeting made clear that the woman’s devastation struck a chord with the 40 dangerous men.

    “A couple years after that meeting, homicides in Cincinnati’s worst neighborhoods decreased by 50 percent,” he said.

    Kennedy stressed that mothers who have lost children to such violent crimes seem to resonate with the known bad guys. Yet the number of bad guys in any community is actually small, according to Kennedy and his research.

    He hopes Kalamazoo finds a way to organize such summits with its known bad guys or gang members, and include police, social-service representatives and community activists.

    “It takes some time but get everybody together, sit down with the bad guys, treat them with respect and tell them there’s right and wrong,” he said. “They know what wrong is and they know it’s wrong to kill people.

    “We tell them, ‘You love your mother. If you kill someone, think how that’s going to hurt their mother,” Kennedy added.

    .

    It doesn’t sound like it would be very effective, but he claims it has worked in serveral cities. Can’t hurt to try.

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