As I write this column on Monday, Aug. 22 at 6:40 a.m., the headlines from this past weekend’s violence are sickening and embarrassing. Four people killed and dozens — yes, that is with an “s” — injured. According to the Chicago Tribune, during an intense 14-hour timeframe of violence from Saturday into Sunday, one person was shot in the city every 33 minutes.
The majority of those shot were black people most likely shot by other black people, but the carnage, like the cancer that it is, is spreading. The neighborhoods where the violence is happening are the usual places: Englewood, Roseland, Avalon, and on the West Side, East Garfield, North Lawndale, Humboldt Park and Austin (where an 8-year-old attending a vigil for a murdered 15-year-old was shot and wounded). The north side is having its share, with violence occurring in Rogers Park, Ravenswood, and Edgewater.
If anybody had stood up and proclaimed that the city of Chicago during Barack Obama’s presidency would become the child murder/shooting victim capital of this nation, black folks would have gone ballistic. We would have declared that murders like that of Yummy Sandifer back in 1994 was an anomaly. “Shorties” aren’t supposed to be on the list of people shot and killed and those who are, are usually caught in the crossfire of stupidity by a moron shooting at an idiot.
This city — nope, let’s specify a more precise location — the black community has been home to the majority of the worst killings of young children by gun violence in this nation. We aren’t a Sandy Hook School where one person goes on a rampage and murders many. Rather, we have many murderers walking the streets, armed and willing to shoot based on their perceived “disrespect level,” i.e. feeling insulted while ignoring how the carnage they create is disrespectful at the same time.
Our elected officials are silent, even as they contribute to the harshness of people trying to live in this city. All one has to do is look at the taxes being imposed on the citizenry and wonder how people can live when for every dollar they spend, 10 cents goes for taxes to pay for services that are hard to see happening.
City, county and state workers are making salaries comparable or even better than private industry. Their pension plans aren’t like those of the average working stiff. While the majority of us may not have enough in our 401K to even retire, we get to hear the union leader profess that her members aren’t willing to contribute 7 percent of their salaries to their own retirement because that’s tantamount to a cut in pay. The sound bite is all we hear and sadly it becomes what we know. If those whose job it is to educate us are struggling, what does that mean/say for the rest of us?
As a society, whether we see it or not, we have contributed to the creation of the “norm,” where all problems are solved by the barrel of a gun. We are now seeing more and more criminals whose birthdates are in the 21st century. When we have a 15-year-old alleged to have been in possession of a stolen car and subsequently shot by a state trooper, what does that say about our society in general? Who are his parents and what have they not done to raise a respectable individual? As our options for dealing with the younger and younger criminal element becomes obvious, perhaps the anonymity that is automatically granted to them should dissipate as they willingly chose adult criminal activity over youthful indiscretions?
Let’s start taking back our city by first taking back our households — by any means necessary.