Today (September 22, 2012) in Chicago the legendary activist Catholic priest, Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina earned what we can call the local version of The Nobel Peace Prize for what he took the risk to accomplish bringing four rival gang members and their supporters together and instead of violence instead was a peaceful game of basketball with not one incident of violence.
There were many in the neighborhood that strongly suggested that this bringing together of four rival gang groups who openly acted out violence against each other was too dangerous to try and pull off and Father risked his life and continued with the street negotiations and other support from other activists, businesses, religious groups like The Nation Of Islam and others, and of course the star power of the current and former athletes.
This one formula showed that when the collective resources are brought together that the same people who commit major violence can also have the same area of peace. This kind of collaboration with resources is the key and after the game is over and the camera's are gone, Father Pfleger must have the support he needs to make good on his promise to find those young people the legitimate sources of income to address their desperate economic conditions that drove them into the illegal and life threatening environments.
Now across this city where the same kind of collaboration was not present, the fight in these other desperate economic areas continued with the usual tensions and random acts of violence, but for today Father Plfeger proved to the world what can happen to create an environment of peace in a high tension of not just one, two, three, but FOUR rival gang members.
From my experience with the first major gang/peace summit in 1992, I can tell you first hand that it is NOT easy to get people and their supporters who have committed violence against each other, hurt and killed each others members, family members with threats of even more to sit down together and agree come together, BUT the failures happened when we could not properly resolve the desperate economic conditions that many of them fought over and the commitment of others to keep the ongoing technical assistance, so while thousands have come out to watch and commend the historic event happening at St. Sabina, we MUST make sure that the athletes, corporate and community sponsors SUSTAIN the RESOURCES to keep this spirit and example alive, for it gets WORSE when that spirit gets busted. Stopping the violence that these four various gang factions brought together today represents means making sure that this spirit and resources REMAIN for the REAL work starts immediately after the game concludes and the cameras are gone. Lets get ready to work!!
In short, Father Pfleger showed the right collaboration with resources can prevent violence and in those areas where it is not continues the usual senseless acts of violence