Reverend Jeanette Wilson, an executive at Rainbow PUSH Coalition declared Chicago as a state of emergency due to the murder rate in Chicago. Rev. Jesse Jackson led a group of marchers to the south side park where model student 15 year old Hadiya Pendleton was shot down as she stood under a canopy to shun the rain on an usually warm winter day. The student had finished their exams and were taking a break. Rev. Jackson lead a in frigid cold weather on a Saturday afternoon to memorialize her. It is time for action to reach beyond the March, balloons, candles and distraught families.
The murder of Hadiya Pendleton has become national news and is a tipping point. She was teen perfect. A stellar student, popular, pretty in preparation for success. Her sport was volleyball. She was planning to be an exchange student this summer, to study in Paris. She was a sophomore. Weeks before she was apart of the Chicago delegation participating in the inaugural ceremony in Washington for President Obama’s second term. Reading the story, your heart bleeds and even though she was a stranger, it brings tears to your eyes. Enough. Chicago needs to come out of its denial mode and deal with this critical problem, straight up. Mayor Emanuel said she was the best of Chicago. She was. And now we must deal with Chicago’s shame. Our crime rate is out of control.
The media screams about the insanity. The Sun Times wrote a down to earth editorial saying we are Newtown. Citizens of Chicago have issued a petition to President Obama requesting his presence at Hadiya’s funeral. He went to Newtown for the mass slaughter of small white children in a place that was called the safest place in America, where the unthinkable happened. Why can’t he come home, just blocks away from his Chicago residence? This probably won’t happen. If he came it would be at best symbolic. The President needs to use his pen.
Teen crime in Chicago is at an all time high and the powers to be are at wits end as they try to solve the problem. An analysis is in order.
First, the problem is out of control because it has not been dealt with. Like it or not SOCIAL ENGINEERING has occurred in Chicago. There are two Chicago’s, one black and one white. There are significant quality differences in Chicago between these two communities. The south side and west side have lost businesses and the schools are a let down. The economy is bad to poor. If you don’t believe, drive through the communities and see first hand. The problem exists from food desserts to just a pure lack of economic resources.
Let’s stop denying it and deal with it. When public housing was torn down in Chicago, namely Robert Taylor Homes located on the State Street corridor were, people were misplaced and displaced. The neighborhoods they went into were not necessarily welcoming. A class war has emerged. It is about economics, family values and lifestyles. Like it or not, there are drastic differences between America’s once most middle class community of Chatham and the Robert Taylor dweller. We are living through it right now.
When you take the after school programs, the sports programs and the cultural programs out of the public schools, it is almost a prescription for the children to engage in negative behavior. What do they do? Where do they go? Understood the program eliminations are due to budget restrains, what happens to the quality of life for the children is negative.
We are alarmed at the death of our children, but we are also becoming immune to it. Who is killed matters. Last year there were over 500 murders in Chicago, this is more than in the declared war zone of Afghanistan. Every child’s life is important from Newtown to Ghetto town. Children should be able to get out of rain, sit in the classroom, have a lemon aid stand, ride the bus with friends, walk to school, and not worry about bullets no matter where they live. These are inherited rights of living in America.
The tactics that need to be used to combat this outbreak of crime needs to be war like. Part of the police problem is that the killings are random - Roseland today, Kenwood the next day and Lake Shore Drive the next. There is no pattern for the policemen to concentrate and contain. Mayor Rahm Emanuel during his campaign suggested he would put 1000 policemen on the street, a promise unfilled, yet a realistic solution. After realizing the dire straits of the Chicago budget he backed off. January has seen more than a single murder daily and has proven the crime rate is not trending downward. He has suggested that he will put 200 policemen on the street, pulling them from the clerical category within the ranks of the police department. Another change has come from within; the police response to certain crimes where safety is non-threatening the police will not offer physical presence. Perhaps these measures will check the crime, but at this time it is questionable. People are becoming anxious, suspect and disgusted. . People are loosing faith as we all wrestle with solutions from common sense to theory. Parents are concerned about protecting their children from the streets.
The community needs to unite with all sectors, and divisions in a single force. To solve this problem we have to come together in a collective to get a common mind on solutions. No one church, no one politician, no one teacher, no one child, no one leader, no one parent can solve this problem. The black community is under attack from within.
Here is a twelve-point plan to consider for Chicago’s crime problem.
1. Bring in the National Guard.
In recognizing the State of Emergency, we clearly need to do something drastic to control and arrest the crime problem. It is time for the National Guard. The police need force and assistance. I realize this is controversial and will meet resistance and hesitation. Here are two observations. Last summer when the NATO convention was in Chicago outside law forces were solicited. Crime went down. In the recent teacher’s strike, crime went down. Why? Because red t-shirts were on the street in force.
- The President of the United States needs to use the power of his pen to issue an Executive Order for serious funding, no less than $50 million, in Chicago to solve the crime problem. As a former community organizer he knows the real value of grass roots organizing. Chicago’s crime problem will not be solved at the top. It will be solved bottom up. Funding is required for resources for churches, community organizations, educational institutions and the like to address this critical issue. The children need to be involved and at the table with answers and intelligence. The funding should be a minimum of $50 million. If the President of the United States misses this opportunity in his own hometown blocks away from his voting address his presidency has failed. As the national discussion on gun control is taking place discussion also needs to discuss censorship. Our media is entirely too violent. Hollywood needs to be approached from the government to tone down the violence.
- Job Corps. President John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson issued national funds for job corps programs. President Obama could borrow a page from their presidential playbook. An honest discussion with the youth, they tell you, we are on the street being criminal because we have no jobs. Chicago could use national legislation for a job training and entry-level job programs aimed at youth. America needs an urban program.
- Sports programs and music program need to be increased in all of the schools. The youth need constructive organized sports in all sectors. The athletes could begin. How about a Michael Jordan basketball clinic? How about coach Mike Dikva talking about winning? How about Otis Wilson showcasing the discipline of football? How about Olympic start up programs in the games? How about the Symphony teaching music in the schools? How about acting programs? How about debate teams? How about celebrity week to talk to the kids about subjects of their choice? How about increased activity at the Y and Park District? How about youth month?
- Teaching Family Values. Many of these criminal children are without the where with all at home on family values because of absent parents, jailed parents, and/or single mother households. Let the churches and community organizations, community colleges and universities hold classes on the subject of Family Values for young parents.
- Conflict Resolution. Many of our youth are angry and with the excessiveness of violence seen in the media, in the games and in the movies, classroom structure needs to be given to the subject of conflict resolution. The media is not just about information, it is about modeling behavior and we need to deal with it.
- Veterans. There is a small but very effective program developed by Steve DeJoie who has put recent soldiers from war on the street in strategic corners as schools open and close. The children walk in safety and the veterans are trained and skilled in the preparation of gunfire outbreak. They serve as protectors on the street. The program has been effective in reducing crime. This program could be developed citywide.
- Safety measures. We need to teach our children what to do in the case of gunfire from the classroom to the bus, at the party or walking down the street, in normal situations. What do you do? Do you call your parent first? Do you call the police? Do you fight? Do you get down?
- Mentoring. Professional men and women from professional sources need to step up to mentor the young men in all aspects of living. It is not enough to talk, we need to perform. Shell Oil Company had a school that was model for high school to enter the world of work. It was short lived but very effective.
- Businesses. Businesses small and large need to step up to provide youth real jobs. Pay is not important, experience is. The world of work needs to be introduced so that these children can gain a sense of responsibility, achievement and accomplishment.
- Youth Forums. Youth forums need to be held throughout our community like the Big Idea Conference. WE need listening sessions from our children. The world has changed. The problems and challenges are different. WE need listening sessions. WE need dialogues from kid to adult.
- Blue Ribbon Committee. Finally, a Blue Ribbon Committee needs to be formed by the Mayor from the grass roots level and upward to develop solutions for teen violence.
Very simply, it is time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their community with ideas and solutions to reduce Chicago’s over the top crime.
What are your solutions to Chicago crime?