When Father Michael Pfleger announced this week he was organizing a march on July 7 to call attention to the violence in the city, I for one was surprised. My surprise was the location he chose for this march, the Dan Ryan Expressway.
I know first-hand about the city’s struggle with violence. I worked the streets of Chicago as a cop for 33 years, including several years in the Gresham neighborhood, home to St. Sabina Parish, where the good father struggles with grief and violence on a daily basis. Make no mistake, the violence is not on the Dan Ryan. Commuters are not responsible for the city’s escalating struggle with daily shooting and killings.
In my opinion, his call to protest would be better served if he directed his fight to where it belongs, and that’s at City Hall and the Cook County Building. City and county leaders need to hear the shouts of people who are frightened to go about their daily lives for fear of being shot or murdered. The gangs have become emboldened to the point that rifles are being used in escalating gang conflicts. Leaders need to be confronted and a comprehensive plan to stem the gang warfare needs be hammered out once and for all. And Chicago desperately needs to bring back the specialized Gang Crimes unit to fight the gangs and their affiliates. The daily intelligence and gang crimes enforcement is critical to the safety of Chicago’s citizens. The gangs and their affiliates are in the neighborhoods, and that’s where the gang unit officers should be deployed on a daily basis. Strict and professional supervision is crucial to ensure that the enforcement is directed at the criminal element.
We can start talking about trust if citizens see the same officers on a daily basis and know they are dedicated to their safety. Chicago’s cops should not have to read a 400-page book put out by the Chicago Crime Commission to know who the gang leaders are and what neighborhoods they control. That information should come from a well-organized unit within the department itself.
Chicago’s leaders pleaded for months for Springfield to enact tougher gun laws for repeat offenders. When those laws went into effect, the Sun-Times reported that the law has not been used once since it was enacted. We need answers as to why not.
The Dan Ryan, in my opinion, is much too far away for the leadership to hear. Chicago’s gangs are a power, and power concedes nothing without a demand. It’s time for Chicago to make that demand. There is an old Marine saying that Chicago’s leaders need to hear: “Lead, follow or get out of the way.”
Father Pfleger, please reroute your march. They need to hear you.
Robert Angone, Miramar Beach, Florida
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Register, then vote Republicans out
According to the President, the “illegal immigrants” crossing the border from Mexico are all dangerous criminals who kill people. So why did ICE conduct raids at four meat processing plants in Ohio and arrest more than 140 workers who were undocumented aliens? If all the “illegal immigrants” are terribly dangerous criminals, were these 140-plus workers all dangerous criminals just stalling for the right time to commit horrible crimes? Or perhaps they were horrible criminals when not working at the meat plant? When will the vast majority of American citizens wake up and vote out the Republicans in the November election? We need to take back the government to sanity and follow the Constitution and the intent of the Declaration of Independence. Every eligible citizen must register to vote and then vote Democrat in November so that we can stop further erosion of our democracy.
George Pfeifer, Evanston
Use our heads before budgeting more for medical examiner
As a former Cook County assistant state’s attorney, I was assigned to homicide/sex cases (Branch 66) in the early 1970s when Chicago murders crescendoed, a time when the homicide clearance rate was much better than Chicago’s embarrassing recent 17.5 percent rate.
More often than not, circumstances do not require a personal visit by medical examiner investigators to the scene. “Always” requiring a scene visit by that office is more appropriate in cases of suspected suicide and cases involving police officers, city and county employees, victims or suspects, and cases involving persons with clout or persons having an interest in the outcome of the investigation [and] with power over the scene being investigated. A projected $82 million Cook County budget shortfall faced by President Toni Preckwinkle and taxpayers is a reason to use our heads spending money.
James E. Gierach, Palos Park