Spring is in full bloom. Summer is less than two weeks away. What Chicago cops used to call the Spring Offensive is flourishing.
Every spring, as the weather warms up, more people are on the streets, in the parks, and out and about. Violence increases.
The war for turf, respect, drug territory, and just plain nonsense is punctuated by gunshots or other violent mayhem.
Innocents are killed. Women, children, the elderly, honor students, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters.
Community activists seek more government grants to line their bulging pockets. Headline seeking clergy have their say.
Fortunately, experts with no expertise are silent on the issue.
Gangs, drugs, and poverty are Chicago's violent trifecta. Unlike the winning trifecta ticket, the illegal trio is a losing proposition. Life is lost.
There is much hand wringing, rending of garments, gnashing of teeth, headline screaming, and political baffleblab over a few police killings nationwide. #BlackLivesMatter only when police kill.
No lives matter when criminals kill.
Black lives do not matter when wholesale slaughter is inflicted on their communities. No one is charging genocide. Young people are not traipsing to the United Nations to make demands. No one is calling for reparations, a fund for the families of victims, monuments, or special courses in schools to teach children about the victims of urban warfare. The so called human rights organizations are mute.
The death toll caused by criminals is a blip on the radar. News for a few hours. Forgotten quickly. Some politician got indicted, a bobble headed celebrity duo is expecting a child, a favorite sports team is headed to the championships or becomes lovable losers. A has been athlete is a hero for changing his gender.
Heroic trauma unit personnel who work diligently to save lives do not get cover shots on "Vanity Fair". Cops, firemen, and paramedics who pick up the pieces of broken lives to not break the internet. The families of the victims are collateral stories that do not go viral on social media like pictures of cats.
So just a reminder. Over 300 people were shot, 37 fatally in Chicago during the month of May. According to the Chicago Tribune, over 1000 people were shot during the first six months of 2015.
The bloody numbers are dry statistics. Talking points are the falling crime rates citywide. That is small comfort to the survivors of the slaughtered innocents in distressed neighborhoods.
Chicago cannot police its way out of this. The city cannot legislate its way out of this. Chicago cannot organize or activate itself out of this.
Chicago needs a bold, audacious, and courageous multi-pronged strategy. A combination of law enforcement, media, public relations, community outreach, and economic development.
It is past time to treat criminal organizations like social pariahs and parasites. They are not members of communities. They are outcasts. They are the enemy within communities.
Government, the news media, and communities need to treat the gangs and drug dealers the same way traditional organized crime was dealt with. Shine a harsh spotlight on them and those who enable or excuse them. Label the enablers as associates of organized crime. That includes politicians, activists, community organizers, and clergy who associate or coddle the criminal element.
Traditional organized crime was not diminished by law enforcement alone. The media named names. The leaders were well known. Their non or semi criminal associates were well known. Faces of mobsters were plastered on front pages. Those who had a few brain cells scurried into the woodwork.
It is time to expose the criminal leaders. Shine a harsh continual spotlight on them, their associates, and enablers. There should be no pity or mercy for reputations, especially of politicians, community organizations, activists, and clergy who enable criminals.
Gangs and their drug partners are death merchants. They control the illegal arms and narcotics trades in Chicago. They are a very large alternate economy. In some areas of the city they are the only economy. That dynamic must change.
It is past time for urban renewal. Not the wrecking ball renewal of the 1960's and 70's which left vast tracts of vacant land throughout poor communities. These communities need a brick, mortar, steel, and glass renewal. Former commercial, manufacturing, and industrial land should be developed for business, commerce, and industry.
Politicians should tout these wastelands to attract businesses of all sizes. Unfortunately aldermen, state, and federal legislators do nothing. The poor get poorer.
More cops will not end the violence. More talk will not end the murders.
Crushing the gangs and drug organizations, exposing their members, and bringing real economic development to neighborhoods will alleviate most of the problems.
People in impoverished neighborhoods, where most of the violence occurs or emanates from, are no different than you. They want the same things. A better life. The gangs, drug dealers, and wannabes are a minority in these communities.
The majority of people living in distressed areas are law abiding citizens. They do what it takes to survive.
It is a pity, shame, and stain on this city that survival now means staying alive.
This is our city. We all have a responsibility to help each other. We all have a voice. We should use it to hold the criminals and politicians accountable for the death toll. We should demand economic development in distressed communities. We have a right to know who the criminals and their enablers are. We should demand better from our elected officials.
Think abut this. The next innocent murder victim could be you.
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