Laura Washington: Anguish, silence plague Chicago neighborhoods

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Last week I wrote about the heinous murder of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee.

I asked: Where are the black voices? Why aren’t Chicago’s African-American leaders shouting from the Willis Tower, storming City Hall, flooding the churches, calling for an end to black-on-black warfare?

The silence continues.

One notable exception: On Friday, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis and other officials unveiled a gun violence report and called for a county ammunition tax to fund public safety and community outreach efforts.

I did hear from a slew of readers who shared their grief, anger, frustration and fading hope. Thanks for the comments. Here are a few, edited for space:


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The real “leaders” with influence on the youth don’t look like the ones in history books. The only leaders, whether they consider themselves to be or not, that youth listen to are people like Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Chance The Rapper, Lil Bibby and Lil Durk, just naming a few. The leaders of this generation don’t make speeches. They make mix tapes.

The only way to grab their attention is over 808s (a Kanye West term) and a catchy hook, not some mainstream friendly sing along. Something visceral, gritty and real. One thing this generation is acute at, that’s recognizing fakers that call themselves activists and educators.

Chris Clark, Chicago

The reality is that black lives do not matter unless they are killed by someone who fits the political narrative of the left-wing liberal establishment. If the killer isn’t a cop or white, the killing simply does not matter to the leaders on the left.

If black lives did matter, liberals would stop pursuing an agenda that has absolutely destroyed the black family and killed more black babies than any other single cause ever.

Bob Kutz, Oskaloosa, Iowa

I do not think your article will motivate black leaders to speak up. Rallying against whites brings esteem and money. Speaking out to stop the killings in the black community will only get catcalls of, I guess, Uncle Tom. If for decades all one hears is, ‘It is the white persons fault,’ how can one expect for the community to change? I mean no disrespect.

Mary Montano, Torrance, California

Policing Chicago is [Mayor Rahm] Emanuel and [Chicago Police Supt. Garry] McCarthy’s job. They’re responsible. The people who live in these neighborhoods shouldn’t be faulted for not speaking out against the gangs and thugs who pervade their communities because they’ll suffer retribution. They fear the gangs and thugs go hand-and-hand with the politicians and cops, and with some reason.

Bill Baar, Campton Hills, Illinois

Where are our aldermen? Why aren’t they speaking out against the shootings? The whole City Council spent weeks arguing about a movie title, yet I have still not seen or heard one alderman speak out about the number of shootings occurring daily. These crimes are happening right in their neighborhoods and yet they remain silent. It’s not the mayor and police chief who are failing us. It’s our own black elected officials.

Van A. Strickland, Chicago

When a crime is committed, scores of police officers are at the scene, taping the area off, looking for clues. It would be nice if they scoured areas before crimes are carried out. I say let them stop and frisk and break up loitering. Sorry, ACLU. Sure, some people might get their toes stepped on, but I think it’s come to this. Nothing is ever going to make us crime-free, I get that. But for crying out loud, let’s try something.

Charlie Yates, Chicago


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