Some years back I was interviewing/interrogating a Chicago gang leader whose status compared to a general or king on Chicago’s Southwest side. We had a rather odd relationship and every once in a while if he wanted something, I could usually get something from him in return. We were investigating a rather brutal double homicide of a male and female who were sitting in their car alongside a park watching a children’s baseball game. Each had been shot multiple times. In the course of the conversation, I asked him, ” why the female?” She obviously had no gang ties or affiliations that we knew of. His answer always managed to stay with me. ” YOU WITT A GANGSTER! YOU GANG.” This lesson has once again resonated this past week in Chicago. Yesterday a 3-year-old child was riding in a car with his daddy (a known gang member) when they were attacked by rivals. The child was pronounced dead, shot in the back and his father was wounded. Hell! this actually got the attention of the Mayor who commented in a Tribune headline, “That child’s murder was “AN ACT OF HEINOUS UNCONSCIONABLE COWARDICE.” Well, yea! to most folks with a sense of decency, but to get that message across to the killers is like administering medicine to the dead. “YOU WITT A GANGSTER YOU GANG” Even close to one, can and does mark you for death.
I was wondering if the Mayor might have noticed that in the last few weeks a 13-16 and 17-year-old was also murdered and a 9-year-old was critically wounded. In fact, so far this year, of the 305 souls murdered in just under 6 months, over 120 were under 18 and 24 were females. Of the over 1,570 wounded, hundreds were teenagers and 125 were females. As the gang wars intensify (God forbid you call it a gang war) What! Do you want to alarm a sleeping city by saying there is a war going on? Hell, that could be political suicide, because you would have to do something, and there doesn’t seem to be the same courage in the politicians’ guts as in their speeches to the press when innocence is shot down.
We have all heard that bullshit saying, and for politicians, it’s strikingly true “talk is cheap” but facing off with the city’s gangs is another matter, that so far has been avoided like a war with China. More and more innocent people are being caught up in the ongoing slaughter, folks riding a bike, waiting in line outside stores, walking down the street, driving innocently in vehicles, all murdered by stray gunfire, innocent souls, in the wrong place when the thugs start shooting. For years now those of us who follow the day to day mayhem in Chicago, are always quick to ask after every particularly gut-wrenching murder like the murder of the 3-year-old child yesterday, IS THIS FINALLY THE ENOUGH IS ENOUGH MOMENT? Will, we finally quit bickering about politics and police reform and all the other distractions that our leaders seem to prioritize rather than face the ugly reality of gangs running wild and killing people at alarming rates?
What in God’s name could be more important than addressing the thousands of murders and shootings in one of America’s great cities? I will stop writing and wait for an answer…….. Simon and Garfunkel have the stage. It’s not enough to make speeches and showcase anger and scream about unconscionable acts of cowardice to an audience you never mention or condemn. Showing outrage and never confronting the power that is devastating the city is a vicious cycle that has quite frankly gone on far too long. Chicago’s Police Superintendent a few months ago said his goal was to keep Chicago’s homicides under 300 for the year. Whether he was suffering from a high fever or some other serious affliction none of us could be sure, but suffice to say that as of an hour ago his prediction was looking like a man who was in dire need of a mental check-up. With over six months to go Chicago is on pace for over 600 homicides, we are sitting at 299.
Last week alone there were 25 more murders and 18 people a day were shot, add that to the most violent May in sixty years and one can readily see the city is in desperate need for leadership that has a grasp on reality. Chicago needs a “TIPPING POINT” a once and for all ENOUGH IS ENOUGH attitude. If the murder of a 3-year-old child is not enough to awaken a sleeping city, then the City of Big Shoulders has lost its head. Soren Kierkegaard once said, ” ONE DID NOT NEED TO TRAVEL TO HELL IN ORDER TO SEE WHAT THE DEVIL LOOKS LIKE.” He’s loose in Chicago and he needs to be challenged with a force of power, not big words and speeches of condemnation.
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