ABC News highlights Chicago gang violence
Diane Sawyer and Alex Perez of ABC News highlighted Chicago’s gang violence in a two-part Nightline special. As of Thursday, there have been 419 deaths in the city of Chicago. That is more than the amount of soldiers killed in the war in Afghanistan! Chicago has unfortunately become a Mecca for violence. Absentee leadership from politicians, parents, community members and others have led to the sad state of affairs. As a life-long Chicagoan these statistics are troubling.
Sawyer, Perez and other community leaders held an unprecedented town hall meeting with past and current gang members. In the meeting Sawyer posed the simple question if the violence truly could stop. The gang members told Sawyer that it was more convoluted to stop violence than by simply ceasing gunfire. They felt it was a “kill or be killed” environment. I got the impression that these people wanted to cease the violence, but either sadly didn’t know how and didn’t know of any other lifestyle.
Father Pfleger, a prominent South-side Catholic priest and social activist in Chicago, recently decided to have a basketball game amongst the gang members. Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah (stars from the Chicago Bulls) and Isaiah Thomas (basketball legend) attended the basketball game. Their intention was to bring these troubled youths together in a safe environment where they could engage in activities that weren’t detrimental to their lives or the lives of their communities. Father Pfleger has said that there hasn’t been a murder since the game in his neighborhood.
I think the most powerful portions of the special were the interviews with the young children affected by the violence. Sawyer interviewed a grieving mother whose daughter was killed in her lap while sitting on her front porch step in the middle of the day. Sawyer also interviewed a young boy named Ralph whose grandmother was killed outside his house while once again sitting outside her front porch (to get some cooler air during the summer heat). Ralph has since padlocked and bolted the windows and doors of his house; afraid for his mother’s life. He hopes to become a super hero and plans to take all guns away.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has seemingly been outraged by the violence. At least in his rhetoric. But what he fails to realize is that actions speak louder than words. Instead of attending the DNC, blasting Chicago airwaves with praise for his “supposed” CTU Strike victory, and now announcing he will campaign in “battleground states” for the Obama campaign, the mayor should be hard at work providing the people of Chicago with actual results. Not rhetoric of how outraged he is, but results of how he has combated the problem. Cutting Chicago’s police force isn’t going to solve the problem by the way Mr. Mayor. Emanuel doesn’t need to campaign for President Obama. The president will do just fine. Emanuel has more important things to do at home.
I’ll end with the sage words of a little boy named Christian who spoke at the town hall meeting:
“I want to go outside and play, but I can’t. Not because I have no friends. It’s because of the violence. It seems it never ends. Don’t Shoot: I want to grow up.”
*I implore you to click on the link to watch the video Hidden America: Inside Chicago’s Gang War. I don’t know how you watch this video and not want to change things.
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate