If only Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded to every homicide on the streets of Chicago with the same urgency and concern he showed in using his Hollywood contacts to reach a movie director with his complaints about a movie title he disliked.
It’s been reported that Mayor Emanuel expressed displeasure to Spike Lee about using the working title “Chiraq” for the film he is currently making about violence in the City of Chicago.
It’s hard to disagree with the Mayor that the title of the movie is disconcerting. But while Mayor Emanuel is concerned with the perception created by the title, one wonders why he has not done more over the last four years to confront the reality that makes that title plausible.
Between Friday morning April 17 and Monday April 20, four people were shot to death and 32 people were wounded. On Saturday, weather conditions were cool. On Sunday, it rained.
The heat of summer in Chicago has yet to fully arrive, and people are already dying.
Where is Mayor Emanuel? When will he speak out on the already escalating violence and mobilize the resources necessary to prevent another summer of bloodshed?
If the current trend continues, the summer of 2015 will look much like the summers of 2014, 2013 and the several summers previous. Which is to say that the City of Chicago will experience a public safety crisis. And that public safety crisis will be concentrated predominantly in African American communities.
What’s most disturbing is that the Mayor’s behavior is not indicative of a leader who believes that a public safety crisis exists.
Mayor Emanuel’s Twitter feed reads like he is responsible for governing a different City than the one the rest of us live in. On Monday morning April 20 news outlets reported that there were at least 13 injured in shootings overnight. That same morning the Mayor tweeted about parks and neighborhood cleanups.
There was no mention of the shootings. But one wonders what kind of statements and action the Mayor might have taken if the shootings had occurred in high income, predominantly white residential and commercial areas.
If a terrorist attack had occurred in the Loop or Magnificent Mile, it’s not hard to picture Mayor Emanuel rushing to the scene with the full complement of law enforcement needed to secure the area.
Yet in Austin, West and East Garfield and North Lawndale- communities that I represent as Cook County Commissioner for the 1st District- families are terrorized every day. Children are becoming anesthetized to the horrors of gun violence.
The psychic costs of violence are compounded by the economic cost- some put the financial toll of gun violence at approximately $2.9 billion when you allow for lost productivity, medical and psychiatric care, and the antisocial behavior that can often result from untreated trauma.
Terrorism reigns in poor and low income communities of color. The Mayor must treat the situation with every bit the same level of attention that he would treat an eruption of terrorism downtown. His silence and his absence are inexcusable.
In recent weeks I have called repeatedly on Mayor Emanuel to enlist the assistance of the Cook County Sheriff’s police in securing our neighborhoods.
On Saturday, May 2, at 10 AM, I will convene an emergency meeting of public officials, law enforcement, and residents to work on strategies to protect our citizens from the intolerable violence that plagues too many of our communities.
This emergency meeting will be held at ChristTabernacleChurch at 854 N. Central Avenue in Austin.
Mayor Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy have been invited. I continue to await their responses.