By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
As a victim of an attempted purse snatching, former Cook County Board President Bobbie L. Steele said parents or guardians of juveniles who commit crimes must be held accountable for the crimes their children commit.
And the practice of proverbially slapping these offending youths on the wrist and letting them go rather than arresting them, is equally unacceptable.
Steele, who is a former Chicago Public School teacher, recounted how last April she was getting out of her car near her home. “A young man ran in back of me and said, ‘give me your purse.’ I told him (I) was not giving him my purse.”
Rather than releasing her purse strap, she wrapped it a couple times around her wrist. “I had a tight grip on it. He dragged me down the street about 13-feet. I called out to a neighbor who was cutting his grass, but he couldn’t hear me because of the motor.” She said the offender saw the man, let her go and ran.
Steele said the 14-year-old youth has been arrested. She said police told her “he has a very long record of snatching purses.” When Steele talked to the community representative about the case, she said, “I was told they were trying not to lock up these young boys because if they go to jail they come out worse.
“I don’t see if we will ever stop the violence if we let them go. There has to be some way of making them responsible for their misconduct. Hurting people and taking other people’s things is inexcusable. They will never learn until they pay for it. Letting them go because they are teens is not the answer.
“We have to make whoever that youth is living with…parent or relative…hold them responsible. Somebody has to be responsible for the conduct of these people who are inflicting injury especially against older people, even if it’s restitution,” Steele said.
“He didn’t take my money, but I had two cracked front teeth I have had to have treated. I had one back cracked tooth that I had to have a root canal done because I fell on my face, and now I am having problems with my knee. I’m in pain all the time,” Steele said, explaining she is scheduled for surgery in April.
“There are a lot of things the new president is saying but bringing this crime under control is something I would love to see done,” she stated.
Steele said there is also an immediate solution. “A lot of these problems can be solved at home…. The parents of these youth should be held responsible. This young man who hit me stays with his aunt. Their backyard was filled with empty purses.”
When told there are 1,400 known shooters in Chicago according to police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who is seeking tougher crime sentences, Steele said, “I don’t have a written degree in criminology, but maybe we should go to the Chinese way of public caning. Why not”?
Steele said a woman who works at a juvenile home, “had a young man who wanted to get out early before his court date because his mama got him a new (drug) corner. A lot of this crime is coming from inside where ever that child is living. If he is under 14 and cannot be charged with a crime, then whomever gives him a place to sleep needs to be dealt with,” she said.
Asked what would she tell President Donald Trump, who has sent in 20 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive agents, and threatened to send more if Chicago doesn’t fix the “carnage,” Steele said, “I like the idea of him helping Chicago getting rid of the violence, but how we do it is another story. If ATFs are sent here to curb the violence, I don’t think that is the right approach.
“I think people on the ground here in the city can put together programs that if they have the resources, would help get rid of this violence. I know we can, because it has been done before,” Steele said.