A Mayor’s Inherited Dilemma/ The 60 Year Fight for the Hearts and Minds of Chicago’s Youth/The Gang lure VS A Decent Society
today at 12:48 pm
These are the words of Thomas Hobbes. Some 380 years ago he was considered one of the founders of modern philosophy– “NO ARTS, NO LETTERS, NO SOCIETY, CONTINUAL FEAR OF VIOLENT DEATH, THE LIFE OF A MAN, SOLITARY, POOR, NASTY, BRUTISH AND SHORT.” Almost every day for over 60 years, I cannot help to think of those words when it comes to Chicago’s street gangs. The gang life, indeed for most, nasty, brutish, and above all short. It was as if Sir Hobbes had them in mind with those words. When it comes to the battle for the hearts and minds of young teens make no mistake the lure of the gangs is one powerful force. The Mayor of Chicago has vowed to uncover the person who she says was responsible for placing a gun in a teenager’s hand.
It’s not going to take a genius to know that it was a senior member of a street gang. Luring young teens into the gangster life has been the lifeline of Chicago’s street gangs for over 60 years. They use intimidation, attention, safe passage, and the chance to make some cash-hustling drugs and loosies. The chances to be part of the gang life sometimes are more appealing than they can handle at such a young age. Look at the ages of some of Chicago’s victims and it helps explain why the ongoing gang violence produces so many young victims year after year, decade after decade. Who is going to win the hearts and minds of these youngsters needs to be a priority in those communities where the gangs are the strongest and the most embolden. This is just the story of one teenager, he represents thousands over the years. His life may have ended in that alley and the hunt for blame of course is underway, but before we pass judgment one thing clearly stands out—there is lots of blame to go around. This is not an unfamiliar story.
Imagine this scenario, and I’m appealing to your common sense — you have no experience as a cop, but try to follow along with me. As you all know I was one for 33 years. Okay, ready! It’s 2:30 am that’s in the early morning hours for those of you are who might be in a foreign time zone. You’re assigned to a patrol car in a neighborhood that is heavily populated with gangs, the predominant one being the Almighty Latin Kings. Shootings and killings and gang activity are a 24 hour, sad to say, routine. At any given moment the proverbial shit can and often does hit the fan. The Chicago Police Department has a DEVICE called “THE SHOT SPOTTER.” It has the technology to detect gunfire anywhere in the city and also the location. When a Shot Spotter alert is triggered the Police Dispatcher immediately assigns a patrol car to investigate. A great tool for Law Enforcement, especially in a shooting gallery city like Chicago where shootings and murders are as common as traffic accidents.
Last week a Shot Spotter Alert triggered and a patrol car was immediately dispatched to the scene of the gunfire. The scene was an alley in a densely populated neighborhood on Chicago’s westside. Upon arrival the officers observed 2 individuals flee down the alley. Of course, the officers gave chase, what happened next was one of the individuals was shot and killed by one of the officers, shot in the chest, and pronounced dead. An automatic pistol was recovered and the second suspect was apprehended. The police officer is claiming self-defense. The video of the incident is being investigated by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability which is a routine investigation in all police-involved shootings. The individual who was shot had no identification or phone. He was listed by the Medical Examiner as John Doe.
The cops painstakingly checked for a missing person but to no avail. It has since been established that the deceased was a 13-year-old male who was reported missing by his mother but returned a few nights ago. No new missing report was made out. Chicago has strict curfew laws and a 13-year-old being out at 2:30 AM is a serious violation. Now imagine for a second it’s 2:30 AM and your the cop chasing an individual who is armed, does anyone actually think the cop even thought about a 13-year-old being out and about at that time? Would anyone be able to distinguish a 13-year-old male in pitch darkness from say a male in his 20s?
Well, this incident has led to, of course, front page hysterics and TV commentators practically shouting over the airwaves. Withholding judgment until all the facts are in doesn’t sell newspapers and cause high ratings for the TV stations. So the story has gained lots of attention. Photos of him when he was about 5 or 6 have appeared in all the local papers, supplied by a grieving mother, a go fund me has already collected 30 thousand dollars for the grieving family.
Lots to be learned for sure. Was the cop justified? What was a 13-year-old doing out at that time of the early morning with a gun? What was he doing in the company of a 21-year-old who is a known gang member? It takes a massive effort, a City, the communities, the police, the politicians, the Feds, the courts, and the judiciary, mentors, parents, and guardians. A war on gangs. Decency simply has to finally win out. If there is a plan in place it needs to be rinsed away and replaced, it’s clearly not working. The gangs are winning the violence has reached war zone numbers. All the sporadic outrage, anger, speeches, tears, and fictitious benevolence, are not stopping the emboldened gang’s intent on terrorizing entire communities with little or no resistance. Chicago’s gangs are a powerful force and power concedes nothing without a demand it never did and it never will. It’s time to make that demand. Gang violence is as deadly as a virus. Say NO to gangs needs to be a priority. IT TAKES A CITY—–