By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
Cook County Comm. Richard Boykin blames the cause of violence on “poverty, unemployment, hopelessness, and self-hatred” he says they provide the “perfect mix” for increased gun violence.
“We are at war and too many of our government officials and institutions have turned their heads and allowed this carnage to continue in our neighborhoods,” said Boykin.
“We must provide jobs, hope and stabilize our communities in Chicago where people are being traumatized on a daily basis, but those who are pulling the trigger must be dealt with severely,” said Boykin.
Saint Sabina’s Father Michael L. Pfleger, who has been calling for jobs for youth, says they will help stem the violence, Sunday said he believes in the mayor’s selection of Eddie Johnson as the new interim top cop—a man he says loves and listens to the community.
“I love Eddie Johnson,” said Pfleger who emphasized he is not into whether the selection process was violated or not and knows he is the right person for job having worked with him for years when Johnson was commander of the Sixth District. “He has the courage to deal with the culture of the police department that’s got to be dealt with.”
“Chicago is in a crossroads. Violence is through the roof, and the relationship between the police and community is the worse I’ve every seen it,” said Pfleger. He warned, “We can either take this moment as an opportunity for a brand new Chicago or watch Chicago fall apart, but I’m for making a new Chicago.”
Dr. Gale B. Frazier, associate minister at the Crusaders Outreach Reformation and president-founder of The Daughters of Sarah International Outreach Ministries, said the problem of violence, goes much deeper than jobs.
“In addition to providing economic opportunities for our youth, one of the solutions for addressing these senseless acts of violence would be to confront the deep-seeded anger and rage that they have.
“This is a spiritual component that manifests itself by acts of violence; and having become common-place, it is now a learned behavior,” she said. “This country is fueled by hatred and violence; and most media promotes this type of behavior and lifestyle.
“When we begin to do this, instead of hatred we will ultimately begin to experience a change within our race in its entirety,” Frazier stated.
Pastor Ira Acree, who heads the Greater St. John Bible Church, said “Wherein we often talk about a plethora of issues when discussing solutions to gun violence, such as better schools, more sensible gun legislation and better parenting, the creation of jobs and investing money on the south and west sides of Chicago is the most efficient way of drastically attacking this epidemic.”
Phil Jackson, executive director for the Black Star Project, said the recipe most Black leaders give on reducing the violence is incomplete. “The new police chief by his own admission said he has no clue how to stop the violence in Chicago. He said it’s the parents. So, why is he taking the job? This is not a short-term fix; so anyone you put in this position will not be able to turn this around even in five-years and anyone who thinks they can, that’s the wrong person.”
“There are people who actually know how to stop the violence…but simply doing more policing will not stop the violence. Locking up more Black men will not stop the violence. More criminal justice will not stop the violence. If we are serious about stopping the violence, we must rebuild the Black family. That is something Black leaders are not working on,” said Jackson.
Jackson also said lack of jobs and illiteracy is contributing to gun violence in Chicago’s neighborhoods.
He said 93 percent of Black men can’t read at a proficient level and Black leaders know this but do nothing about it. “They are going to jail. That’s the only thing they can do. Our Black leaders, elected officials…know this and we do nothing about this…. There is no plan to fix this,” said Jackson.
“The best mentors in Chicago are the gangs, not the Boys and Girls clubs, not the churches or schools but rather street gangs. They put more effort into mentoring our children than we do. The children have no choice,” Jackson said claiming no one else wanted them except the gangs. “Until we can out-mentor street gangs, you won’t be able to stop the violence,” said Jackson.
But for those between 16 to 19, the unemployment rate is 90 percent. “To say we should give them jobs is a waste of breath. “We need a new economic system that teaches young Black men how to make it economically in 2016 because it’s not going to be by a job. Because we don’t give them alternatives, we leave them with an underground economy,” said Jackson. “What they say if it is choice between me selling drugs to put food on the table for my baby, I’m selling drugs. Until we address that, we cannot stop the violence,” said Jackson.
Frank Giancamilli, assistant director, Communications & News Affairs for the Chicago Police Department, said they are saturating high crime areas with added police, increasing custom notifications and gang calls-ins through which CPD meets with gang members to intervene and help lead them out of a life of crime. They are also partnering with community service organizations to provide gang members an opportunity to pursue a different and better lifestyle.