I just looked at a VERY disturbing photo on Laura Washington's Facebook page. I'm not going to publish the photo here because it's too sick. I'll briefly describe it: Two young black men in a car, slumped against each other, covered in blood, dead. The caption reads: "WAKE UP! this is the damage a AK-47 does in our hood. We MUST stop the senseless killings & mindless violence that permeates OUR city. Support the work of @Ira Acree @Marshall Hatch @Michael Pfleger @Tio Hardiman @Ceasefire and all of us who are working to bring PEACE TO THE STREETS OF CHICAGO & AMERICA." -Dwayne Mystro Grant #theFBpastor
As I mentioned in my Facebook comment about the photo, it is about the most disturbing image I have ever seen—even more so because it's real... and it happened here in Chicago... to somebody's children.
Almost every night on the news I watch another report about violence in Chicago. Almost every day on the Web I read stories on the Chicago Tribune Breaking News page about another young black man getting shot. Parents cry for an end to the violence. Clergy pray for an end to the violence. The police officers in my district, and all around the city, are working to end the violence. Organizations such as CeaseFire are trying to shift the paradigm to help end the violence. Legislators are doing what they can (although most would say it's not enough) to legislate an end to the violence.
Yet the violence continues. And mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, grandmothers and grandfathers, friends and neighbors continue to cry. What can we do?
I'm just one person and don't have kids, but this is what I have done and/or will continue to do to make a difference:
- Volunteer at my local elementary school.
- Pick up litter in my neighborhood and encourage children to do the same.
- Walk my dog around the neighborhood 3-4 times a day and keep my eyes open for inappropriate behavior.
- Speak up when I observe young people behaving badly (for example, bullying, littering, using foul language, etc., because I believe it takes a village to raise a good child).
- Get to know the parents in my neighborhood so I can tell THEM when/if I see their children behaving inappropriately.
- Call police. (Yeah, I'm a snitch, so what?)
- Participate in CAPS and try to get to know my beat officers.
- Speak up when I observe police behaving badly. (I believe walking/driving while black is a very real phenomenon in Chicago—and elsewhere. Whenever possible, I observe police officers during the commission of their duties just to make sure nobody gets mistreated.)
I encourage my neighbors to do their part and I try to be an example of what it means to be a good neighbor, although I'm sure I fall short often.
What else can I do? This is not a rhetorical question. I would love to hear what my friends and neighbors throughout the city are doing to help stop the violence. I truly believe that together we can make a difference.