Laura Washington: Speak up, black leaders, on killings of young blacks

SHARE Laura Washington: Speak up, black leaders, on killings of young blacks

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy (center) talks last week about gang violence that led to the killing of Tyshawn Lee, 9. Photo by Brian Jackson for the Sun-Times via AP.

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On Thursday, near a gritty alley in Auburn-Gresham, Chicago’s top cop declared it was “probably the most abhorrent, cowardly, unfathomable crime that I have witnessed in 35 years of policing.”

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy stood at the podium, stooped, aggrieved. A battle between two major gangs led to the murder of Tyshawn Lee, who was “lured” to that alley, McCarthy said, and executed in retribution.

“When you’ve done what you did to a 9-year-old, there’s a place for you, and there’s no humanity in that place,” a visibly emotional Rahm Emanuel said.

“This has grieved hearts and touched hearts across America, as it should. But it’s gotta do more than touch us,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church.


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They were exhorting, pleading, begging.

Pfleger begging that the “coward” executioner be exposed. McCarthy exhorting gang-banging “mutual combatants” to end the warfare. Emanuel pleading that people in the community have “a moral responsibility” to come forward.

As I watched and listened to it all in TV reports and online narratives, I noticed: The loudest voices calling for an end to the slaughter came from whites.

White voices asking that we save African-American children.

Pfleger, McCarthy and Emanuel are passionate about ending the raging street crime that has turned Chicago neighborhoods into war zones. As they should be.

Where are the black voices?

The same day Tyshawn was murdered, 20-year-old Kaylyn Pryor, an aspiring model,  was shot to death just blocks away. A 15-year old boy also was shot. Someone in a car had opened fire, police said.

Thousands of other black children and youths are held hostage to warfare on the South and West sides of Chicago. They cannot walk to the bus stop, cannot play outdoors, cannot step out on the porch without fear of murder, even execution.

They cannot live.

Chicago has become known as the nation’s ground zero of black-on-black warfare. The gangbangers are running our streets. Black lives don’t matter to them.

But where is the black leadership in this town? Where are the moral voices? Where is their outrage? Where are their demands that the slaughter cease?

Those voices roared for change during the civil rights movement. They made history.

Today, those voices are nearly silent.

Chicago is a city full of accomplished, smart African-American “leaders.” Preachers, politicians, business leaders, educators, union and community activists with power and standing. Charismatic figures, marquee names, time-worn podium thumpers.

They know how to command the microphones, dominate the headlines, get up in our faces. Where are they?

How many more little black boys and girls must die before those “leaders” begin to question — and demand. Here’s a script they can follow:

Why aren’t these war zones being flooded with cops?

Why not put millions in tax dollars into crime fighting and gun control?

When will black Chicago stop accepting its own self destruction?

When will we admit that black lives don’t matter to us?

When are we going to stop waiting for white people to beg us to change?


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