In rebuttal to Mary Mitchell’s column on Feb. 22, first and foremost, I am not hiding from anyone. As a public figure, my personal life is most often open and subject to public discussion and debate. That comes with the territory.
Further, my sincere effort is not to undermine the loss of life here. My sympathies are very much with the family of the deceased. However, I refuse to believe my grandson has the capacity to pick up a gun and shoot somebody. Therefore, I feel the burden of proof for alleged charges, reiterated in a framework that strikes me as presumptuous and somewhat an indictment and conviction in theory. A rush verdict, personal even, despite Mitchell aptly stating, he is innocent until proven guilty.
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I’ve simply opted for privacy for my family at this difficult time as we await more details. As a grandmother, I advocate that this matter is appropriately and better served being discerned in a court of law and not in the court of public opinion. I acknowledge guns are problematic in areas with high concentrations of minority people, which data supports. And if the challenge posed is for me in fact to speak about guns and violence, then I offer sticking to the subject. I resent taking this occasion to infer responsibility or reference my relationship to alternate family members unrelated to the obvious context of this topic.
As a public servant, I’m tasked with issues of public safety, especially and particularly gun violence. Needless to say, I remain an outspoken critic of the culture of violence that has taken shape in Chicago and across the country. In my community in particular, the youth lack positive resources to indulge and coupled with the increasing influx of guns and drugs is an absolute recipe for disaster no matter how anyone shapes it. The lack of local, state and federal funding appears to create some of the greatest deficits for minority populated areas.
What is needed is a dialogue with all stakeholders at one roundtable. We know that gun trafficking is an issue. We know that transporting guns through some of the most violence stricken districts is an issue. We know drugs coming into the neighborhoods also is a major issue for us. We know that broken schools are of issue. We know lack of jobs are of issue. Insufficient access to healthcare is of issue. Quality and competitive education, school safety and family supports are lacking. We are well aware that the highest percentage of shortages and inefficiencies take place in communities of color. And the list goes on.
It is paralyzing to any person with an ounce of humanity to not be overwhelmed by the number of homicides occurring in our communities daily. We know that in isolation, policing and incarcerating youths is grossly inadequate to address these issues. I know that absent of providing long-term solutions and education, career, housing and job opportunities to engage our youth and prepare them to thrive, we, elected officials, law enforcement, educators, advocates and laymen alike, will not have an impact on breaking this cycle. We can continue to point fingers, access blame and criticize, but in the absence of making real, immediate changes, we’ll all remain at unpredictable risk. Like the case of mistaken identity leading to a grandmother’s car being shot at while driving on the expressway. Our youth are losing their lives at record numbers and we’re still debating the obvious and foreseeable. We need intervention and resources simultaneously. I’m a staunch advocate for that!
Please respect my right to privacy at this time. No questions. No interviews.
Ald. Carrie M. Austin, 34th Ward
Life is truly about choices. But we have to deal with consequences of our choices. I am thinking here of how ABC7 Chicago sportscaster Mark Giangreco went on Twitter and ranted about President Trump. Giangreco’s bosses didn’t care too much for that and gave him a “multiple weeks” suspension.
I like Giangreco and I enjoy watching him over others who mumble and stumble through a sportscast while reading off a Teleprompter. And I have a problem with Giangreco being suspended for tweeting out his opinions; he should be protected under the First Amendment.
The only problem, according to the State Board of Elections, is that Giangreco didn’t vote in the past four elections, which was his choice. Would Giangreco’s vote have made a difference in Illinois, where Hillary Clinton won in a landslide? Absolutely not, but who knew who would win at that time or in the previous three elections?
Giangreco and others who choose not to vote need to back up their tweets, words and protests by voting first and squawking later.
Walter Brzeski, Irving Woods