Marin: Old prison thugs like Jeff Fort won’t solve Chicago’s gun violence

SHARE Marin: Old prison thugs like Jeff Fort won’t solve Chicago’s gun violence
El Rukn founder Jeff Fort speaks at a press conference at First Presbyterian Church in Lawndale in 1970.

Gang leader Jeff Fort speaks at a press conference in 1970.

Sun-Times file

Follow @CarolMarinWelcome to the theater of the absurd. Not Spike Lee’s upcoming film Chi-raq, the title of which drew the early objection of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who protested the comparing of Chicago’s violence to war zones in Iraq. Not that theater.OPINION

Follow @CarolMarin

But the one that played out this week when U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, dressed in clerical collar, made a pilgrimage to confer with two of Chicago’s most infamous gang leaders to enlist their help in stopping our unstoppable violence.

ABC7’s Charles Thomas broke the story of Rush’s trip to the Administrative Maximum Federal Prison in Florence, Colorado. Because cameras were not allowed, there is no video or audio of the meeting.

But Rush emerged to report that Jeff Fort, founder of the Blackstone Rangers, Black P Stone Nation and El Rukns, and Larry Hoover, co-founder of the Gangster Disciples, were “appalled” by the assassination of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee, who was shot at point-blank range.

I’ve known Bobby Rush for many years and like him. We talked on Friday. What value was there in this meeting, I asked?

“I am of the opinion in a state of emergency … you don’t leave any stone unturned,” he told me, adding that Hoover and Fort “are held in significant esteem for some whose life is in the streets.”

It is esteem they have done nothing to deserve.

I’ve spent years covering Fort and Hoover on everything from conspiring with the government of Libya to commit domestic terrorism (Fort) to murder, drug dealing and extortion (Hoover). They are messianic criminals who each liked the title of “Prince.”

Not kidding.

Fort is 67. Hoover is 64. They’ve been locked up longer than they have been free, and many of their worst felonies were directed by them from prison.

There’s a myth that we were better off when Hoover and Fort were on the street because they were leaders who enforced discipline and banned the killing of children.

Funny, that never stopped them from giving guns to children to carry for convicted felons who couldn’t risk violating parole by being nabbed with a weapon.

As writer Rick Soll said in a 1979 magazine article, “Babystone,” they’d give a kid two bucks and a baloney sandwich to go shoot someone.

Chicago doesn’t need the intercession of felons.

Chicago needs jobs, education and reinforcements in its poorest neighborhoods.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, who said the funeral Mass for Tyshawn Lee, told me, “When this Fox Lake police officer is found shot, we had FBI … tons of law enforcement … even knowing this cop was dirty. … But when Tyshawn gets killed on 80th and Damen … where are the resources? Where are the feds?”

Bobby Rush represents the killing fields of Chicago. But he has been severely criticized for not spending enough time in Washington, where resources come from. And where policy is made and voted upon.

Barack Obama, meanwhile, has not used his own platform as president nearly enough to address the violence in his own backyard.

It is their leadership we need and are missing.

Not that of two old, notorious gang leaders locked up for life.


Follow Carol Marin on Twitter: @CarolMarin

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