Chicago gang leaders met with top cops last week. Past and present members and leaders held a press conference a couple days later to denounce that meeting. Aldermen also denounced that meeting. Of course, the reasons for denouncing that meeting were myriad and diverse. But they also demonstrate substantial problems within the city and the tense relationships between those in power downtown, those who are supposed to serve and protect, and those that arise out of an economic/power vacuum. And, more to the point, those put in their crossfire.
- Since the fatalities in the city are not statistically worse than before, why does the city wait until now to take such desperate measures?
- Apparently, the gang leaders were roped into this “summit” under false pretenses. And the pretense of this actually being any sort of dialectic summit is also false. Does the CPD understand that they need to actually build relationships? Does the CPD understand that they’re largely ineffective in the same communities where gangs have a strong hold because the police are untrusted in those communities? Does the CPD really think the solution is to break down what little trust is still there?
- RICO. Gang leaders/proxies say that this is a violation of their rights. Do they have a point? The violence here is systemic and much of it is directly gang-related. They do have a point that much of it is more directly related to drugs, but their deflection is – to say the least – lame. Since the violence is intrinsically related and fundamental to how gangs operate in Chicago, is it wrong to implicate the entire structure and those who prop up the violent structure?
- Speaking of violence… The biggest and most accessible complaint at the press conference is that the biggest crime is the scarcity of jobs available for potential gang members. This is something that Daley and city council has had ample opportunity to turn around if they were willing to fully leverage TIF funds from the downtown districts to community development in the West, Near North, South and Far South sides. If Daley is serious about reducing crime and violence done in those areas, then shouldn’t he be serious and creative about reducing the crime and violence done to those areas?
- Children learn from their community. Unfortunately, a disproportionate amount of Black and Latino adult males served time locked up and away from their communities. And when they returned they found fewer options to get straight than when they left. With depleting jobs, decreasing social programs and a wide reticence (however understood) to hire ex-cons, the temptation to return to the same patterns is stifling. While many young men in the area are steadfast in their determination not to become the men they see and know, it’s near impossible to not become like most of the people you’ve ever met/seen/talked to, despite what we want to believe. How can we expect better from the next generation if we continually ostracize the current adult population? Don’t we recognize the forces of internalization when we see it?
- What’s with the aldermen getting their bunchies in a bunch over the idea of talking with gang leaders? “We don’t negotiate with terrorists…” Stupid. Lame. No wonder nothing works here…
Next, I want to highlight some local stories that I think ARE working in this city (and in others). Hopefully, I can get some stories for the upcoming Christian Community Development Association conference starting in the city tonight I’m going to try to make it to the film fest sometime during the week. If any of the LeftCheekers are wont to go, hit me up here and we’ll see about making a date about it!