Hurray for the just resigned U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon!
Freed from the ideological vise of former President Barack Obama and his administration, Fardon said what needed to be said about how utopian restraints imposed on Chicago police have crippled their efforts to halt the wave of gangland violence sweeping across the city.
In his 5-page letter released to the press just after his resignation he let loose:
Cops were under scrutiny. Cops had to worry about the ACLU deal. And many of them just no
longer wanted to wear the risk of stopping suspects. Many became scared and demoralized.
And that demoralization was compounded by the City panels sweeping tone and language around racism and lack of respect for the sanctity of human life. So cops stopped making stops. And kids started shooting more because they could, and because the rule of law, law enforcement, had been delegitimized. And that created an atmosphere of chaos.
He noted how police were taken off the streets by having to fill out lengthly reports on every "stop" they made. The ACLU and others pushed this unproductive time as one solution to the charges that the stops were rarely motivated.
Fardon hit a bullseye. But this confirmation of the beat cops' shared view of how the police have been crippled didn't get the attention it deserved. Except in the offices of the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the chief instigators of the cuffs that police have had to wear. It rushed to the PR machine to issue its outrage (as a Chicago Tribune headline blared): "ACLU rips Fardon for 'blindsided attack' on curtailing stop-and-frisk by Chicago police.
Oh, stuff it.
What follows in Fardon's letter bears emphasis:
And all the while, so many noble public servants cops, federal agents, Assistant States Attorneys and Assistant United States Attorneys they all toiled quietly, fighting hard to stem the violence, with episodic success, and then in their quiet moments struggled with their own sense of frustration and despair.
Today I stand unshackled by the diplomatic constraints of being the US Attorney. My hope and goal is to just speak truth. And the truth is that when it comes to our gun violence problem, there are two things going on one short term, the other long term.
The long term is that Chicago has an entrenched gang problem in a limited number of neighborhoods on the south and west sides. For decades, those neighborhoods have been neglected. The reasons for that historic run of neglect are rooted in ugly truths about power, politics, race and racism that are a tragic part of our local and national history and heritage.
And as a consequence of those ugly truths, and the neglect they brought, these neighborhoods stand wrought with poverty and inadequate schools, businesses, jobs and infrastructure. For many growing up in these neighborhoods, there is a sense of hopelessness, a belief cemented early in life that they?re not good enough for higher education and that they?ll never get good jobs.
Gangs and guns are ubiquitous, and gangs fill the void created by that hopelessness; they teach kids crime and violence, and give kids protection, money, and a sense of belonging. That?s the long term reality, and long term challenge.
The short view is the surge in violence since January 2016. That surge started immediately on the heels of those 4 successive events I mentioned in late 2015: the release of the Laquan McDonald video; the initiation of the DOJ pattern and practice investigation; the firing of Superintendent; and the beginning of that ACLU contract. Those things exploded a powder keg that didnt change fundamentally the landscape of gun violence or law enforcement,
Among the five recommendations for addressing the problem, the second one stands out as a challenge to crusaders who would have us believe that cops wake up in the morning focuses on how they can better harass young black men.
We need to flood those neighborhoods with local and federal law enforcement offcers. Not just to arrest the bad guys but also to be standing on that corner where shots otherwise might get fired, to be breaking up those corner loiterers, and to be meeting and learning and knowing the kids, the people, and the truth of who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, and who isn't yet formed and can be swayed.
Fardon's observations are thoughtful and balanced. Anyone who cares about the slaughter on Chicago's streets should read it in full.
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