Mitchell: City could use help stopping the violence
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There are people getting fatally shot coming out of their homes in broad light, and Chicago’s elected officials are balking about a Twitter threat from President Donald Trump about sending in the feds.
The mayor and aldermen, especially those whose wards have become shooting galleries, should be lining up with their requests.
But Gov. Bruce Rauner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, even Cardinal Blase Cupich and the Rev. Michael Pfleger are giving Trump’s threat a thumbs down.
“It’s up to city leaders to figure out whether or not it’s necessary . . . but we have to make sure we don’t over-simplify this issue by just saying that it’s a matter of control by military or police forces,” Cupich said.
Although no one can be sure what the president actually meant when he tweeted he’ll step in if the city doesn’t fix its “terrible carnage,” we know this city is in deep trouble.
Despite all the anti-violence summits, blood is still flowing in our streets.
I’m all for investing in jobs, in recreational facilities and in mentoring programs, all ideas that I believe will ultimately help turn the tide.
But I also agree that parents in violence-ravaged communities have to do a much better job providing the nurturing environment that gives young people character.
Frankly, it is degrading that people are actually waiting around for strangers to show up and raise their kids.
What happened to black pride?
Right now, we live in a city where someone was bold enough to shoot and kill a 20-year-old woman from Indiana outside an elementary school in Austin.
Obviously, police can’t be everywhere.
Still, you would think they would be visible 24/7 in an area of the city where a lot of the violence is occurring.
There have been 44 homicides so far this year. Does that sound like the city has a handle on the problem?
The fact is we have too many young people on the street who are carrying and using illegal guns. At the same time, we have too many demoralized police officers willing to let them walk on by.
As reported by recent CBS “60 Minutes” segment, there was an 80 percent decline in police stops made in 2016 compared with 2015.
Some Chicago Police officers have candidly admitted “stepping back” from aggressive policing strategies. And an investigation by the Department of Justice found a pattern of unreasonable force against residents in minority communities, further eroding effective policing.
I can understand the frustration good cops must feel right about now.
But the bad cops are getting paid by taxpayers for doing a job they are no longer willing to do.
That makes all of us less safe, and frankly, makes this a crisis.
Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin has long called for Rauner to declare a state of emergency to deal with the alarming number of homicides.
But even Boykin doesn’t want Trump to intervene by calling up the National Guard.
He wants to see more FBI, DEA and ATF agents assigned to help the Chicago Police Department tackle a backlog of unsolved homicides.
“I am also for President Trump instructing the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois to prosecute vigorously these gun crimes that are occurring in Chicago and bring these people to justice,” he said.
“I never suggested sending in the National Guard. They are not equipped in terms of being law enforcement,” Boykin said.
Obviously, no one wants to see military tanks rolling through our neighborhoods.
But would there even be a debate if armed gangs of racist white people were threatening black people?
Of course not.
In 1957, in Little Rock, Arkansas, President Dwight D. Eisenhower federalized the National Guard to forcefully integrate Little Rock Central High School and to protect students from rioters.
And in 1962, John F. Kennedy federalized the Mississippi National Guard to prevent violence against the first black students attending the University of Mississippi.
In recent times, governors have called up the National Guard in their states to help stop rioters and looters.
So what are these elected officials really afraid of? That our city’s reputation will be forever tainted by the fact that we had to ask for help?
While our individual and collective efforts will pay off eventually, many of the children growing up in Chicago’s endangered neighborhoods have already been robbed of a normal childhood.
We can’t afford to snub an offer of outside help, no matter where it comes from.Tweets by @MaryMitchellCST