This has been another devastating week for the City of Chicago. You've read about the murders. Seen it all on television. Talked about it amongst your co-workers, family, and friends. And, we'll forget about it and go on with our lives, until the next. And the next. And the next. Oh, four more kids shot just outside their schools in the last two days.
This week we lost a nine year old boy. A beautiful little boy. And a sparkling twenty year old girl. Their names have been all over the newspapers and the television news. And, it doesn't, I'm very sorry to say, make any damned difference. Great writers in this city have recounted their names, and editorials are calling for an end to the violence.
Here we are again, folks. Homicides in Chicago up 18% this year. It's not a joke. People get killed. All kinds of people. A little nine year old boy gets lured into an alley behind his grandmother's house and gets shot multiple times as revenge because his father is a gang member. And then the father says he feels bad about it because he feels like it's his fault, but he is not cooperating with the police. They have some leads anyway, and reward money behind finding the murderer.
There are many awful and frustrating aspects of all the violence, shooting, killing. Nobody seems to be able to do anything about it. The City Council blames the police, a force which is apparently seriously undermanned. I personally was under the impression nobody is doing anything. Then I learned the cops actually do meet with gang members. According to the Chicago Tribune, on October 13 there was a "gang call-in" meeting, an anti-violence effort by Chicago police and other law enforcement. So, there's that. I would like to know more about it.
Another thing that leaves many feeling so helpless is the love for the City of Chicago and how great a city it really is. For some. City Living is awesome. The museums, the parks, the restaurants, the music, the nightlife, it's got everything. And, oh yeah, it especially has extreme poverty in parts. Far south side. West side. Always has. And it's getting apparently more segregated, and poorer, and less hopeful, and more scary. Poverty. Despair. Segregation. Hopelessness.
And, I ask myself, why does it seem we can do nothing, like none of us really care? Why does this not bother us to no end? Why do we have all these great parks, great places to visit, all these great amenities and we can't make it safer to live in parts of Chicago? We read all about the violence, the shootings, the murders. And we move on.
New wonderful skyscrapers are being designed and built. New parks get funded and built. Things are happening in this city. Downtown. All around the town. Where the money is. Not much, or not enough, where the poverty is. We have to care. E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y needs to care. It seems collectively as long as most of us are out of harms way we do nothing. So, we need solutions, ideas.
And, then it dawned on me. Witness protection.
Here's the deal. It appears the cops would have much more success if they got more cooperation from people in the neighborhoods where the violence is most prevalent. The poor neighborhoods. The places where there is little hope, lots of despair, and extreme poverty. But, people, like the father mentioned above, are afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation. So, how to you combat that? How can we help?
Now, I'm not saying this is the be all, end all. But, maybe it's something. Not doing nothing. What if some entity, whether the City of Chicago, the Chicago Police, anybody, initiated a program that was funded by donors, all of us, big donors and little donors, like people who were willing to fund Millennium Park, the Symphony, the museums? How about the City, in granting permits to the developers who are proposing all the new high rises downtown, insists as part of the negotiations something like a million bucks each developer donates to this fund?
The fund is called something like "Saving Chicago." It's a Trust Fund. It's used to protect families of people who come forward with information that helps arrest and convict murderers in their neighborhoods. When they come forward with this information, they can ask for protection, to be moved to a safe place, perhaps out of town, and given enough money to relocate, move their family, buy a house, begin a brand new life, escape the poverty that is ruining their life.
Would you be willing to contribute? To save a life? To help someone find a murderer? Reward their courage with a promise of a new life? Anyway, it's something.