The shootings going on all over Chicago are staggering – both in numbers and reasons. There is now no age group, sex, or area safe from the carnage. And the black community is especially vulnerable to the bloodbath when one takes into account the sheer number happening right under our noses.
To address the problem, we first look to the mayor. He is, after all, the top honcho in charge. He controls the police, the resources, and his words set the tone for how the city will respond to crime within its borders.
Following the cold-blooded killing of Heaven Sutton, the mayor spoke out. His words were right on point. He asked the question that is at the crux of the rash of shootings: “Who raised you? How were you raised?”
Finally, I thought, we have a mayor who is seeing the heart of the problem. I have been very vocal in stating that the thugs, killers, murderers and mayhem creators are not paying rent. They’re living in their mama’s basement or grandmama’s attic. Some may be staying with their girlfriends. No matter what the situation, they are living where someone else is shouldering the majority of the financial burden. Thus, to stop the rash of shootings, we have to have those folks think at least once about what they’re doing (’cause saying, “Think twice,” would unfairly give them credit for having thought about it to begin with).
The mayor recently announced one of his newest initiatives to address the problem of violence. The city is going to go after problem businesses that breed crime. Those establishments will lose their business licenses or be temporarily shut down for repeatedly failing to correct code violations. Some businesses will be fined. The bottom line is that City Hall is trying to shame the owners by publicizing their names, alleged violations and complaints about the businesses called in to 311 by neighbors. That’s fair. But if the city is going to run the problem business out of existence, what about the other half of the problem: the problem home and apartment that gives those gangbangers a place to live, sleep, shower and eat? Because until those who shelter the criminals also face the risk of loss, there isn’t a real incentive to demand that thugs change their behavior.
Let’s say that Pookie is a 25-year-old banger, still living at home. He is accused of having shot someone. As his family rallies to his defense, they should also know that, because of his actions, they will now be under a microscope. From making everyone in that household subject to an IRS review, to car registration checks (y’all know how our thugs love to register their vehicles in the suburbs to avoid buying that city sticker) to losing eligibility for LINK cards and Section Eight, the message will be loud and clear that participating in criminal activities will affect everyone in the household. And if Pookie instead were a 15-year-old and used to get the unearned income tax credit, make the parents pay it back.
What I’m suggesting is punitive and it should be. People obey the laws for two reasons: Either they respect the law or fear the law. With shootings now in double-digit figures, we are in desperate times and the solutions will require desperate measures. We need to see the city go after one highly publicized case to send the message to others that allowing criminals to reside in one’s household will come at a huge cost.
I bet many won’t be willing to pay the price.