The weekend is here. Chicago braces for another spate of neighborhood violence. The politicians, clergy, and Moms Against Something or Other are blathering and bloviating. Their words are nothing but gasbaggery. Fodder for the gullible public.
A recent Chicago Tribune piece by Charles Lipson, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, highlights what many have been saying for years. Their voices went unheeded.
Chicago violence is localized, concentrated in a few poverty stricken neighborhoods and surrounding areas. It is not citywide, except on occasion, when roving bands go downtown.
Overall, Chicago is safe. It is not a murder capital, violence capital, or mayhem capital. Perception is the new reality. People believe what they want to believe despite the facts.
Aside from certain cultural or social attitudes, which can be changed, there are methods to reduce violence. Some of these methods worked in the past.
Charlatans and frauds from Ceasefire, Guardian Angels, and such need not apply. The National Guard is not needed.
Tax dollars for fake anti-violence programs are not needed to pad the slush funds of politicians and clergy, like the current scandal plaguing Governor Quinn.
People must organize and demand politicians in poverty stricken areas bring in economic development. The aldermen, state and federal legislators, and the mayor must push for economic development. Economic development brings jobs.
Use T.I.F. funds and eminent domain to take over the acres of blighted vacant property to build factories, warehouses, medical centers, retail outlets. and parks. Guarantee, by law, that most of the demolition and construction workers come from those neighborhoods.
Unfortunately for almost fifty years, aldermen, legislators, and mayors have done nothing. The were elected and reelected on the bodies and bloodshed they caused. They are responsible for the murder and mayhem as much the criminals.
If you drive down Grand Avenue, you will see honorary street signs, "Daniel "Moose" Brindisi". Mr. Brindisi was a social worker. He believed giving young people skills, hobbies, and sporting programs would keep them out of gangs. Old timers claim Mr. Brindisi kept many young people out of street gangs and the Chicago Outfit.
On the near west side another social worker, Anthony Sorrentino did the same thing. Their programs were not Midnight Basketball, which cops call the midnight meeting of gang leaders and drug dealers. These were real programs teaching young people important skills and letting them expend pent up energy.
There are organizations who can do the same today. Large religious organizations, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Chicago Park District can work together to resurrect programs from the past that kept young people out of the clutches of gangs.
They can teach young people viable skills, hobbies, sports, and other subjects to raise their self esteem and give them a leg up in life instead of a coffin or prison sentence.
The Catholic Youth Organization is the model for success. Their programs saved more kids from delinquency and leading them to live productive lives than any other in Chicago.
Using that model, various organizations should come under one umbrella to take kids off the streets and provide them with productive activities while teaching them valuable life skills.
We need to bring back trade schools. One of the biggest losses to the city was the slow evisceration and eventual closing of Washburne Trade School and the conversion of other trade and vocational schools to whatever they are today.
If the city will not do it, the trade unions should get together and build their own institution. That would be better as it would ensure young people get a real education.
It is time to stop looking to Washington for solutions to the violence. They failed miserably.
These were simple solutions that worked in the past. There is a reason Jane Addams and her Hull House are still celebrated in Chicago history and lore. Hull House saved lives and provided livelihoods.
Last, but not least, the police must be allowed to do whatever it takes to curb the violence on the streets. Tough times call for tough measures. These measures worked in the past. Those in communities, including clergy and politicians, who fight against these measures, must be ignored. They should have no voice in the public discourse.
We need a crusading prosecutor who is willing to bring criminals to justice, instead of hiding in her office cutting plea bargains like a used car salesman.
The conversation needs to be changed. Law and order should be the buzz words. Prosecution and persecution of criminals, organized gangs, and drug operations should be the policy. Gangs, gang members, drug dealers, and those who associate with them, enable, aid, and abet them should be denigrated, demeaned, and despised. That includes politicians.
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