What happened in the early morning hours of March 29, 2021, when 13-year-old Adam Toledo was killed is heartbreaking. Yet it’s also complicated.
Recent tragedies across the county have made clear that as a society we must examine our police force’s use of deadly force. At the same time, at least in Chicago, we need a city-wide intervention to address gun violence amongst the citizenry.
Adam’s death highlights how these two issues are inextricably linked. If Ruben Roman, the 21-year-old also in the area, or Adam did not shoot at that car, the officer would not have been chasing Adam through that alley.
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We must address police shootings but we must also confront the daily gun violence that has plagued our city for so long that it has become commonplace. Attempting to tackle these issues will be anything but easy. Our institutions, like the Chicago Sun-Times, will need to assume leadership roles if there is to be a path forward. To do this, and to do it right, we have to approach issues like this with empathy and a willingness to embrace their complexity.
The editorial board shied away from the complexity in its piece “‘Show your hands,’ the officer ordered, a split second before shooting Adam Toledo,” to disappointing and detrimental effect. The same videos the editorial board viewed show that Adam had a gun and that Adam or Ruben had used that gun, apparently to shoot at a car, just minutes before the tragedy.
These uncomfortable facts don’t make what happened to Adam in any way acceptable, but this newspaper has a duty to fully present them if it wants to be relied upon as one of the city’s institutional leaders.
This is an opportunity for a broader discussion and I hope the Sun-Times will take the lead going forward.
Matthew Ingersoll, Beverly
A teen out at 2:30 a.m. is the real tragedy
Though it is a tragedy Adam Toledo died, it is not the fault of the cop who shot him. Toledo was running from the cop in an alley at 2:30 in the morning with a gun in his hand.
Put yourself in the cop’s shoes, receiving a call of “shots fired” with an armed suspect running away. Your adrenaline is rushing and a split-second decision has to be made. Though we now view it frame by frame, that is not how life is lived in real time, let alone at 2:30 a.m. in a dark alley while chasing an armed, unknown suspect.
The real tragedy and question is why a 13-year-old was out with an armed, 21-year-old convicted criminal at 2:30 in the morning.
That is what caused this tragedy, not a cop responding to it.
Jean DuBois, Elmhurst
Keep high schools closed
As a veteran public school educator for over 20 years, it is my conviction that keeping high school students out of school buildings in regard to in-person learning is the right thing to do at this point. The argument by Ammie Kessem in her April 13 op-ed is from a selfish perspective without taking into account the entire picture.
First, not every high school teacher has been vaccinated, which poses serious risks for themselves and students. Second, high school students change classes throughout the day causing an enormous amount of traffic in hallways, especially in schools with a large student population.
Third, data show that most high school students would rather continue with remote learning that eliminates the possibility of contracting COVID 19. Fourth, if some students return to class but more choose remote learning, how can the teacher provide quality instruction for both groups?
Fifth, Ms. Kessem’s allegation that the remaining ”20 days in school would be the best 20 days ever for many Chicago high schoolers” is just her belief, without any empirical evidence.
I applaud the Chicago Teachers Union for doing what many teachers, staff, and students believe to be in their best interest. The rest of this school year should be relegated to remote learning without having to be concerned about the possible danger of in-person instruction and without having to develop a strategy to provide meaningful instruction for both the remote learners and those who are in-person.
Al S. Kennedy, CPS teacher