Chicago's Street Gangs/ Afghanistan's Taliban/The Common Denominator

Chicago's Street Gangs/ Afghanistan's Taliban/The Common Denominator

America's war in Afghanistan began on October 7th 2001. It has proved to be the second longest U. S. combat force, 16.9 years,  and still no end in sight. Our leaders are convinced that by engaging the Taliban, the Sunni Islamic Fundamentalist political  movement in Afghanistan, America will be a safer country.  Who has the expertise to argue that?  However, America is paying a price, only we are not seeing the headlines on a day to day basis.  As of July 27 of this year there have been 2,372 U. S. military deaths, and 20,320 U. S. servicemen have been wounded.  While our brave men and women in the military are keeping us safe from the militant Taliban, it's occurred to me who is keeping Chicago safe?  In 7.5 years beginning in 2012 to today,  Chicago has endured 23,689 people shot, of that  3,815 were murder victims.  The perpetrators most certainly are not the militant killer Taliban but the members of the communities they live in. Chicago's gangs are so embedded it seems leadership has no clue what to do about the epidemic of bloodshed those gangs are causing.  Make no mistake they are responsible for over 90% of Chicago's violence.

Nobody seems to be able to put a number on the militant Taliban but according to the Chicago Crime Commission,  Chicago has between 55-60 main gangs with over 2,500 affiliates.  About 3 weeks ago over 75 people were shot over a weekend.  It was not only significant for the numbers, 64 wounded and 11 murdered, it was notable because the thugs had graduated from murder to massacre.  There were at least 4 separate mass shootings at different locations.  In each at least 3 to 10 victims were shot at those locations with a total of 25 in all.  They are not ashamed, nobody is ashamed.  They have no remorse.  They have to maintain their power, their turf, their drug businesses by fear. They cannot go to court and sue in a courtroom, because protecting dope territory is against the law, so they shoot, slaughter and intimidate the competing gangs. They are not monsters but throughly ruthless, vicious individuals who have entire neighborhoods living in fear.

For over 50 years the gang life in Chicago has most certainly been an ongoing lifestyle. The frustration of being in, and working in their world and trying to talk sense on a personal level, feels like a White Knight riding in with a broken down horse. The mouth is moving, the eyes are open, but the brain has long since ceased to function.  Most have renounced reason, so to try  and take the time to make sense to them is like administering medicine to the dead.  Thomas Hobbes is worth repeating when he said almost 350 years ago, "No arts, no letters, no society, which is worst of all, the continual fear of violent death, and the life of a man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

The gangs are a force, they are a power, they are an army.  It's much too late and naive to think they will suddenly give up that power and their lucrative drug businesses,  intimidation and murderous ways.  In my opinion they have to be met with another determined force.  This weekend I heard a voice in the Community of Englewood, a voice Chicago's leaders I'm hoping will listen to.  Tamar Manasseh, is the founder of "Mothers/Fathers against senseless killing."  I never met her and I certainly never influenced her, but she gets it.   It's something I have been advocating for 3 years. Here is what she had to say.  "You cannot put new cops in old neighborhoods with old problems.   It just doesn't work."  She was referring to the Police Department's strategy of putting an extra 600 officers in the most needed violent areas of the City.

A failed strategy over 4 years ago, removed the gang specialists from those neighborhoods that they worked in on a daily basis.  They knew the gangs,  the gang leaders, the local affiliates and the community in turn knew them.  There was a trust that has since been lost, and to those who pay attention, we certainly can see the results. Overtime cops,  costing over 100 million a year, and administrative cops suddenly cast into the fray is a loosing strategy.  I have personally polled over 30 to 35 retired police officers from Chicago who all agree that the previous strategies of gang suppression worked, the community was behind it, enforcement is the only thing gang thugs respond to.   Tamar Manasseh voice is the voice of reason.  The community simply cannot be living in fear of death to themselves or loved ones.

Something is wrong with an America when we send U. S. warriors 7,676 miles from our shores to fight an enemy that may someday be a threat in our homeland, yet practically   ignore an enemy that is killing our citizens in the communities they live in.  Think more about strategies when you see a mother in Wilmette, Illinois, also in Cook County, gets a visit from the police for letting her 8-year-old daughter walk her puppy around the block. The police did not take action but Corey Widen the child's mother, was immediately set upon and is being investigated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family services to see if she was neglecting her children.

Three weeks ago the Mayor of Chicago asked a question in the news media, "Who gives a 13-year-old a gun?"  He was responding to the death of a 15-year-old, shot and killed at a basketball game where a 13-year-old was arrested for possessing a gun.  He also called upon the community to check their values when it comes to their children and what they are doing.  Chicago has so far this year had over 125 children shot in gang warfare, the ages ranging from 3 years old (twice) to 17 years old. The question is how many of them were out and about after the City's curfew, where were the parents?  Where was the Department of Children and Family Services?  Any fool understands walking a puppy around the block is far, far, off the charts, then teens roaming neighborhoods with guns. Somebody has to ask the question where the hell are you?  Wilmette, better not be the answer. Being passive about gang thugs without question is inviting the problem to expand.

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