By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
Cook County Comm. Richard Boykin said the key to ending this violence in Chicago literally lies in our hands but that government must step up to the plate and provide the resources needed to save these “endangered communities” where violence erupts almost on a daily basis.
“If you put two lions in a cage, eventually one will eat the other,” Boykin said. Poverty is the root cause of this violence. He held his fourth “Endangered Communities listening tour” Tuesday at the Cosmopolitan Community Church, 5249 S. Wabash St., in the Washington Park area.
At Boykin’s last Tuesday’s listening tour held at the Hope Church, 1354 W. 61st St., headed by Rev. Leslie Sanders, Illinois State Police Captain David Byrd, a district commander, warned about Chicago’s “killing cycle.”
“You have rival gangs or if one kills another and in retaliation they kill somebody, the cycle goes back and forth until somebody decides to not do it again. You need a break in the cycle. It takes somebody to say, ‘I’m not going to do that’ then let the police do their job,” said Byrd.
“That is our job to make those arrests, but if you don’t let us do our job, then the cycle goes back and forth between the killings. That is how that number starts to escalate…
Raised in Chicago, Byrd said he has been a police officer since 1989. “I started when I was 21-years-old. I have seen a lot of things go on in this time period, but I’ve never seen it to this point where you have this retaliation going back and forth between rival gangs, killing from block-to-block…. It’s gotten to a point where it is utterly ridiculous.”
Byrd said this violence “is not just gangs” pointing to high unemployment, parenting issues. “There are so many things we have to tackle…. It’s going to have to be a team effort. We won’t be able to do this alone…. We cannot arrest our way out of this situation nor should we want to.”
The forum’s Masters of Ceremonies were Sonya Blakey, program director and morning show host for Inspiration 1390, and Darryl Dennard, news anchor/producer for WVAZ/- WGCI/WGRB iHeart Media.
Others on the panel were: Rev. Janette Wilson, national senior advisor to Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Cook County Comm. Robert Steele, Byrd, Attorney Sodiqa R. Williams, associate vice president, Policy & Strategy for Safer Foundation, Mark Dietzen, outreach coordinator for Senator Mark Kirk, Cherita Logan, district manager for Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th), and others.
Saturday, while speaking at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Boykin referred to his first listening tour in West Garfield Park. Boykin said over the weekend “a bus carrying a group of 32 kids…a bus driver was caught in gang violence crossfire. He got shot in the face. The bullets grazed his face, but he was successful in pulling the bus over and not allowing any of the children to be injured.
“That is what happens in these communities that are endangered,” Boykin said. West Garfield Park he said, has a per capital income rate of less than $12,000 a year, a poverty rate of 40 percent, an unemployment rate of 25.2 percent. “That must not continue. We must lift these communities up.”
“When we embarked upon this tour, 2800 people had been shot in the city. Right now the numbers are 3,245 people have been shot in Chicago, 540 people killed already this year alone. That is unacceptable,” Boykin said.
When you are traveling on our expressways, you are at risk of being shot in many instances and that is not right.”
He said this year alone there have been more than 41 shootings on expressways. “We must make our communities safe. The government has an affirmative obligation to make sure the people are safe in their neighborhoods and safe on the streets…that children can walk down the streets …play in the parks without fear of being shot.”
Referring to the upcoming November 8th election, Boykin said, “We’ve got an important choice in this election. We got one candidate who offers up an urban agenda. We have another candidate who says stop and frisk is a way to get us out of this violence.”
Boykin objects to the latter solution that is being pushed by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Without mentioning Trump’s name, Boykin said, “That’s the wrong choice. The ACLU says that is the wrong choice.
“We have to make sure that we invest in these neighborhoods…in these schools…and our young people. We can no longer afford to disinvest in certain communities and that is how we’ve gotten to the point where we are today,” he said.
“Nobody’s going to save us but us. We’ve got to stop this gun violence. Down with the violence. Nobody can stop this but us. Let’s do it,” bellowed Boykin.
He also urged the public to attend his next listening tour being held on Thursday, October 13th, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Saint Sabina Church, 1210 W. 78th Place, in the Auburn Gresham community.