Transcript of the 4-27-2010 Mark S. Allen's "American Morning" CNN Interview With Mark S. Allen on "Solutions" To Chicago Violence versus The National Guard. Interviewed by CNN Morning Show host Kiran Chetry


Transcript of the 4-27-2010 "American Morning" CNN Interview With Veteran activist/journalist Mark S. Allen and Illinois State Representative LaShawn K. Ford, on "Solutions" To Chicago Violence versus The National Guard. Interviewed by CNN Morning Show host Kiran Chetry

CHETRY: Well, curving violence in Chicago. A lot of people are wondering what to do about the growing problem of 113 murders this year alone, gangs and drug violence. Now, some are saying the National Guard on the streets of Chicago is the best solution. We'll debate it -- coming up.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Ten minutes past the hour right now.

There has been strong reaction in Chicago to a proposal by two state lawmakers who want National Guard troops brought into the city to help deal with this surge of deadly violence. There have been, so far, in 2010, 113 murders in the city of Chicago.

Illinois State Representative LaShawn Ford is one of the lawmakers calling for the guard to come help them. He joins us from Springfield this morning.

And also with us, from Chicago, is Mark S. Allen, a long-time community organizer in the city and also editor of the "South Street Journal."

Thanks to both of you for being with us this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much.

CHETRY: Clearly, there is a big problem going on right now on the streets of Chicago.

Representative Ford, how would the National Guard help? How do you envision their presence if, indeed, they are -- they do come to the city?

REP. LASHAWN FORD, ILLINOIS STATE HOUSE: Well, in a respectful way, we would like for them to meet with Jody Weis and sit down and come up with a plan that they can assist him in securing the streets and not take over. We don't want them to come in the community with tanks and guns, and taking away the rights of people. And I know Jody Weis said that the National Guard will take away all the rights of people and they don't have to follow any laws and any rules, but that's not true. Everyone must follow the Constitution. And if we really want --

CHETRY: Just so people understand, you're referring to the Chicago police superintendent, Jody Weis, who does not believe that National Guard is the answer, right? He believes that the answer is really cracking down on guns, getting the guns off the street.

FORD: And, you know, we can't -- I mean, guns are a problem. We need to talk about more gun laws. I will continue to support legislation that will make it tougher to own guns for criminals, but what we want to do is talk about securing the border so that guns are not brought into the communities.

CHETRY: Let me bring in Mark here.

Mark S. Allen, I want to ask you -- you've been in the city for a long time, obviously. And you know some of the challenges right now of quelling the violence there. What's your reaction to the possibility of the National Guard possibly being called in?

MARK S. ALLEN, CHICAGO COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: Well, I think that some of our leadership, that's the best they can do. But that's not the best that could be done. I think we got to think outside the box and we got to respond to this situation for what it is.

What's facing Chicago, unlike what Mayor Daley said, is the number one issue being guns, that's not true. The number one issue facing Chicago this summer is a desperate economic situation. And we keep trying to throw more law enforcement on top of a desperate economic situation.

And I think we need to think outside the box because we've already proven, Kiran, that in Chicago, we've thrown more police on top of the situation before. That didn't stop Chicago from still becoming the murder capital of the world.

So, I think that we got to think economically, and instead of using state and federal dollars to bring in more law enforcement, why not use those state and federal dollars to hire some mentors for these young people to get them back connected to the community? Why not hire some peace patrols so people can have safe passage to and from?

There's a lot more things we can do on the front side to have the kind of vision to keep our people alive, versus having the kind of vision and lack of vision to help our people perish. So, I think we got to come outside the box, but realize, in the streets of Chicago is a desperate economic situation that people are willing to die over to try to make ends meet. And just adding more law enforcement, again, is not going to resolve this economic problem.

CHETRY: Representative Ford, one of the things that Mark S. Allen has talked about and some of the others in the community, including local pastors as well, saying that, right now, the sad fact is that, for young people and for adults, is drug, drug dealing and gangs are really the only way to make a living, which they are then using to support their families.

Is more being done to tackle that aspect of this?

FORD: Yes. And, you know, I think Mark Allen is absolutely correct. But I think that we cannot be tunnel vision. We have to know that we have to work on all angles. We have to work on the economic angle and we have to realize that in order to help people do better, there must be law and order.

And so, we want to invest in a community and so that people feel good about coming in and bringing jobs in these communities.

CHETRY: Right.

FORD: So, not only do we have to fight -- yes?

CHETRY: No. I was just going to say, you know, to Mark, the thing is -- I mean, how are you going to convince businesses to come to a place where you're looking at murder rates being come comparable to the number of people killed in the war in Iraq? You know, it's a situation where, I mean, the clear and hold strategy I guess that the military even uses -- I mean, in this case, wouldn't more help making the streets safe to begin with and then going from there work?

ALLEN: Well, one is -- people that have an economic answer, first of all, wouldn't be in the desperate situation that they are in to even want to be fighting over. I'm simply saying to you is that when poor people beg for jobs at a Walmart, instead of saying, "Let me get you off the streets and let you work," you got leaders with an income saying, sorry, the income ain't good enough for you. So, they turn around and send you back into the very negative elements that you're trying to survive in terms of lifting you up.

I'm simply saying there are thousands of our people who would not be in negative elements. They would not be tearing up communities if they had a legal place to work. We got to stop letting the gang, drug, and illegal street economy becoming the number one employer of our young people. So, if we want to stop them from going into this negative element, then let's not add more police. You won't be confronting the police if you are using empty lots this summer to have green jobs.

You wouldn't be fighting the police and being anti-social if you were going to work every day, being a mentor, reclaim people social consciousness (ph). If people had a working job to go to, then they would not be in this illegal environment, and then, we got to stop blaming everything on the gang situation. Everything is not gang- related. If you walk these streets long enough, you'll know that there are a whole lot of people who are not involved in no kind of gang. They just got their backs up against the wall. We have to think outside the box, how do we not spend more money again?

We put more money on top of it and let's stop people from saying, I'll shoot that to police. I'll shoot -- anybody starting to make a living. Let's solve an economic problem with an economic solution. People want to work, because unfortunately, you got people like Larry Hoover and Jeff Ford who send people down to the gang and say, don't hurt people, but every time you label some gang, you never see the successes.

But the bottom line is this, people want to work. And if we keep let the illegal elements employ them, then we're not using the right kind of vision that I know we can do. So, we try to see the killing (ph), help people live and put him to work because we can do this. You try to tell me we can't use those modals to let these young people use these empty lots that are just vacant, sometimes being used for illegal things and not for community guarding to put people to work.

CHETRY: Let me let Representative Ford jump in there and go ahead.

FORD: You know what happens, what law does, it provides deterrent. It let's people know that they shouldn't do bad things. It controls an environment. And so I think we need to also not always be focused on the criminals. We need to make sure that taxpayers are protected, that their property values are protected so that they don't lose the value in their investment. Some people, a home is all they have.

When you have this disorder in a community and you have businesses that have disorder around it, it devalues it. So, we cannot be tunnel vision. We have to look at every angle. We have to protect the taxpayers that's trying to have strong businesses so that they can provide jobs. We have to protect the homeowners so that they can be all that they can be so that they can provide jobs for people. My office sends out job leads at least 60 pages a day every day, and there are jobs. We have to, as a community, realize that sometimes we may not get the job that we want but there are jobs out there.

We have to settle down and, say, I'm going to start somewhere and I'm going to get a job. Everyone should be out looking for a job if you are unemployed. Jobs do not knock on your door.

CHETRY: Well, obviously --

FORD: And so, it's available, and I know it's difficult. We just have to realize that we cannot be afraid to work with the police. We cannot look at the police as if they're going to take away our rights, because we, as citizens won't allow that to happen, but what we do want is for our kids to be in safe environments. We want senior citizens who have paved the way for us to have that. So, I look forward.

CHETRY: I want to thank both of you, Mark S. Allen as well as Lashawn Ford, the Illinois State House. Obviously, a lot of challenges and a lot of people working hard to try to find an answer for this problem. Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

ALLEN: Thank you so much.

FORD: Thank you.


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