Ironically, just the previous week Chicago police officials had been boasting about the “significant drop” in the number of murders from the previous year. The department had reported a 29 percent decrease over the same time period from the previous year. More than 500 Chicagoans were killed in 2012.
Chicago, like many other large American cities, was forced to react after a particularly bloody 2012. Because so many homicides are attributed to gang and drug violence, major metropolitan police departments enacted suppression methods in order to curtail the behaviors and freedom of movement that was enjoyed by the gangbangers and drug dealers. But how long can those methods last when city budgets are stretched and the demand for increased police presence will soon surface in other neighborhoods for other “needs.”
Admittedly, neither last year nor this year can come close to the bloodiest years in Chicago’s long and often warlike existence. In 1974, there were a reported 970 homicides and in 1992 there were 943. But try telling that to the residents of those areas hardest hit by the violence. Out of fear for their children, many parents do not allow their kids to even play in their own yards during the daylight without adult supervision. Others simply won’t allow their kids outside the house after the sun goes down.
When Illinois’ U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk recommended arresting gang members by the boat load, he was sharply rebuked by Rep. Bobby Rush who wanted “community development programs over heavy-handed justice.” One has only to remember Chicago history when during the ’60s development programs and millions of dollars were funneled into Chicago’s gang problem via large corporate foundations heavily influenced by the new liberal thought of the era, which pretty much resembles the new liberal thought of today. The result was that the criminal street gang the Vice Lords emerged an even stronger and more violent criminal organization.
I would never suggest that there is not a place for proactive involvement in getting the gang members and the drug dealers to put down their guns. But advocates of bringing love and peace to the inner cities often become dupes, their innocence and good intent preyed upon by the hardened street criminal. You can talk all you want about investing in more jobs, but for the cynical dope peddler, a job means too much individual effort and will never be as lucrative as selling drugs on the street corner or the back alley. The poets and the liberal media personalities can romanticize life in the streets, but a 5-year-old gunned down with a bullet to the gut is nothing to coo about. The anti-gun proponents can continue calling for tougher firearm legislation, but Chicago long ago passed some of the toughest gun laws in the nation.
No, these are wars being fought throughout our nation’s cities, including Fort Wayne. It’s time law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, neighborhood associations and yes, even legislators get on the same page and take this fight to the enemy.