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It is rare for me to struggle to write a column. But this week's column is one I started and stopped a number of times - because the subject of youth violence in this city and what the solution might have to entail had me pausing, stopping and starting again a number of times.
Some of our young people are completely out of control. Some have truly lost their minds. Those young people have never had boundaries set for them in their lives, and the rash of violence we're seeing is further proof of a population degenerating to its lowest point.
Our young people don't have the skill set to argue their point. They have had no training in conflict resolution. Rather, after hearing far too many adults say how they would "go get their gun and blow somebody's head off," these young people are doing just that. They are shooting with no regard for innocent folks who might also get hurt. They have no concern that young children could be out playing. All they see is that they want to extract revenge, and everyone else's safety "be damned."
As a city, we are now finding ourselves in desperate times. One of the reasons I had so much trouble writing this column is that the solution calls for "desperate measures." At the core of those measures would be to ask the Chicago police to begin to use everything in their power to restore order in the midst of this chaos. Restoring order will demand more of the Shaft brand of policing and less of the friendly Barney Fife type.
Admittedly, I am sensitive to the issue of police brutality. I can still see several guys who came on television and even though it was years later, they broke down in tears at what happened to them via Jon Burge. I juxtaposed that image with our current group of thugs and wannabes, and the reality is many of them haven't had the kind of "beat down" that strikes fear. They have been coddled by their mamas, ignored by their daddies and left to allow the streets to raise them.
As a result, they have become a "menace to society," with a very warped sense of everything. They respect little and because they haven't experienced real fear, they pretend to be brave.
It is that mantra of being "hard" that is allowing these children to run "buck wild." Many of the contributing factors are so ingrained in our society that it's too late to do anything about them: hard-core gangsta rap music filled with false bravado, movies that glorify killing, video games that allow our young people to spend hours shooting and killing at the screen while also making them better shots for guns in real life. The marijuana they smoke is laced with additional chemicals to help them stay in a mind-altered state. Combined with all the other drugs they like to use, it is truly a recipe for disaster.
It is time for the black community to stand with the police. We are also going to have to admit that to get our community back to some sort of normalcy, the usual pandering and prayers and pontificating ain't gonna work. We are at war with some of our young folks and since we haven't been able to get them to "chill," we're going to need the kind of help that won't be pretty to look at but will be necessary in order to restore order.