People in violence-plagued areas have to ‘stand up’ to stem the problem: Mitchell
By MARY MITCHELL April 21, 2014 7:42PM
Five children were injured in a drive-by shooting Sunday night near Marquette and Michigan. | Brian Jackson/Sun-Times
Updated: May 23, 2014 6:25AM
Are we going to stand by and let another summer be marked by blood?
Is that the plan?
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy says he intends to put more bike patrols in 19 zones on the South and West sides that have a history of high violence.
Given the carnage that occurred over Easter Sunday when another 37 people were wounded and eight others killed, there isn’t likely to be any reduction in the amount of police overtime either.
But in certain neighborhoods, a squad car would have to sit on just about every corner to stop the brazen shootings.
So while half of the city is gearing up for the frivolity of summer, the other half will be hoping and praying they don’t become the victim of a stray bullet.
So what is the plan?
On Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office also announced that it would create a specialized unit of 16 prosecutors to tackle violent crime.
But given that so much of the gun violence is senseless, it isn’t at all clear what the feds can really do.
For instance, among the weekend shootings were five children who were wounded in a drive-by near 66th and Michigan.
These kids were between ages 11 and 15, and four of the victims were girls. According to witnesses, the youngsters had gotten into an argument with some unidentified persons at the Brownell Elementary School playground before the shooting.
No one has said yet what the argument was about, but many of us can recall a time when, a playground argument meant going home with a busted lip or black eye.
These children had to be taken to two different hospitals. Worse yet, there were at least a dozen children in the park at the time of the shooting.
Frankly, right now public service announcements featuring celebrities that urge youngsters to “squash” conflicts should be more prolific than political ads.
Despite the shootings, parents in high-violence neighborhoods often have fewer choices.
The only thing most worried mothers can really do is keep their children locked up in the house watching TV and playing video games.
Unfortunately, in a world where the selfie is the ultimate symbol of the self-absorbed, in the black community, the gun is the ultimate weapon of self-haters.
“It’s hard to police self-hatred,” noted Tio Hardiman, former director of CeaseFire Illinois. Hardiman now heads up Violence Interrupters, Inc. The anti-violence program sends courageous souls into roiling controversies to try and stop the violence before someone fires a gun.
“Summer is going to be rough and the police are looking in the wrong direction. Everyone has got a crazy cousin with a gun in the community,” Hardiman said.
So what is the plan?
Obviously, we need more mentoring programs, more jobs, more recreational programs, but we won’t see the fruits of those efforts right away. Barriers that prevent ex-felons from accessing education, housing and employment are counter-productive and also should be removed.
But we also need more fathers to get involved with their sons and daughters, and more mothers to make better choices about the men they allow to set examples for their sons.
I asked Diane Latiker, founder of the nationally-acclaimed “Kids Off the Block” after-school program, if she could choose one action targeting violence what would it be?
“There needs to be outreach citywide. Every leader, every church, the police department, every parent would come together unified and say this can’t happen anymore. Our young people are killing each other,” she said.
If the city is to stand a chance of curtailing the summer homicides, the people who live in violence-plagued areas have to be the ones who come up with the plan.