CeaseFire? Do the names El Rukn and Jeff Fort ring a bell?

In an act of desperation, Chicago has handed over $1 million to  CeaseFire, an anti-violence organization that counts ex-felons among its "interrupters" who try to calm street disputes and thus prevent shootings.

Well, I wouldn't know what else to do if I were Chicago's police superintendent Garry McCarthy, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the City Council and  Captain America all rolled into one. Chicago's intra-gang and intra-racial slaughter has reached such alarming proportions that an alliance with former gang members who talk the talk and walk the walk might be the only thing that's left.

Whether it's worth $1 million is another question. I'm willing to be persuaded. If it works, let's go for $5 million, even if a beneficiary is the usual City Hall hangers-on, qua progressive liberals like 1960s nail bomber maker Marilyn Katz.

But I can't but help remember the El Rukn gang and Jeff Fort who also worked the taxpayers for grants because, I guess you could say, they know the territory, like Professor Harold Hill. Lakefront liberals like to think that they're on the inside, the real city folk, as it were, so an alliance with someone who knows the territory only makes sense. But where it will lead is a good question.

For that, I give you the Jeff Fort entry on Wikipedia:

In 1972, Fort and two others were convicted of misusing federal funds and Fort was sentenced to five years in prison. Fort served two years at the United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth and was paroledin 1976. During his time at Leavenworth, Fort converted to Islam and assumed the name Prince Malik. After his release from prison in 1976, he moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and joined the Moorish Science Temple. Fort then renamed the Black P. Stones to the El Rukn Tribe of the Moorish Science Temple, El Rukn being Arabic for pillar. In 1978, Fort returned to Chicago. In a coup, he replaced the Stones' 21 generals with five close allies and renamed the Black P. Stone Nation to El Rukn.[2][6] Law enforcement speculated the conversion's motive was to take advantage of restrictions on law enforcement surveillance over religious organizations.

During the 1970s, the gang trafficked in cocaine and heroin. In 1983, Fort was convicted of drug trafficking charges and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He was sent to the Federal Correctional Institution atBastrop, Texas. Fort continued to lead El Rukn through daily telephone calls from prison. He ordered members of El Rukn to meet with Libyan officials. The gang agreed to commit terrorist acts in the U.S. in exchange for US$2.5 million.[10][11]

In 1987, Fort was tried and convicted for conspiring with Libya to perform acts of domestic terrorism by use of COINTELPRO type methods. He was sentenced to 80 years imprisonment and transferred to the USP Marion, the federal supermax prison in Marion, Illinois.[5][11][12] In 1988, Fort was also convicted of ordering the 1981 murder of a rival gang leader and was sentenced to 75 years in prison to be served after the completion of his terror conspiracy sentence.[11][13][14] Fort was transferred to the newly opened ADX Florence supermax prison in Florence, Colorado in 2006 and remains there as of 2009, being under a no human contact order since his arrival.[4][15]

You can read the entire gruesome entry here.

Now, maybe it is unfair to automatically associate CeaseFire and El Rukn in the same post. To do so suggests that there is no possibility of redemption and salvation.

So, good luck to CeaseFire. They've already had impressive exposure on the PBS show Frontline, so here's hoping that it lives up to the hype. Really.

 

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    Chicago Tribune contributing op-ed columnist and author of forthcoming historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812." Reporter, editor and columnist for Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. Freelance writer and editor.

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