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The era of COVID and violence

Image: PV Bella

Living in the era of COVID-19 and the Summer Olympics of violence in Chicago is a challenging proposition. No one knows what will kill or harm us, the disease or random bullets.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot should be lauded for the way she handled the pandemic. We should condemn her for how she and her Police Superintendent, David O. Brown, handled the violence. 

Most people who suffered or died from COVID were innocent victims. Many of the people shot or murdered, especially children, were innocent victims. Innocence is the only thing the two events have in common.

While other areas of the country are seeing massive spikes in COVID and deaths, Chicago’s rates are not severe yet. Chicagoans believe we are responsible for ourselves and each other. We may not like or agree with various mandates, but most of us comply.

We do not know what to fear more. Catching COVID, being shot, carjacked, or violently victimized walking down the street. It is like a coin flip every time we leave our homes.

While the mayor is issuing common sense mandates for COVID, she does little to nothing about the city’s daily violence. Her mercenary superintendent from someplace else is out of his league. All he does is mumble meaningless numbers at his pressers.

The only media source reporting on violent crimes in Chicago is CWBChicago. They provide in-depth coverage versus copying handouts from the city. They also report on the shortages of officers and supervisors working in various districts.

The past year and nine months feel like an era. It is a long time and road to who knows where. Day after day, there are new COVID variants, more people shot, and other crimes like robberies and carjackings.

Chicago has a history of disease and violence through the 1920s. Cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis, and the 1918 flu pandemic. If people were quarantined, a sign was posted on the door of the home. There was even an order that police officers will not use the butts of their pistols to nail the signs to the door.

During the same time, there were violent criminal gangs from all ethnicities. Some specialized, like robbing transit garages, where fares were counted and kept. Some of these robberies resulted in murder. Other gangs or lone criminals used violence to commit crimes or settle scores. Many of these criminals were young people. The higher numbers of crimes occurred in certain impoverished pockets of the city, just like today.

Along came prohibition and the Chicago beer wars, adding to the violent criminality. Gangsters killed very few innocent people during that period of violence. They mostly killed or wounded each other.

Today is no different. We have a disease. We curbed it. We have murder and mayhem. The people committing these crimes are more bold and ruthless. Many are very young, even pre-teens. The only difference between now and the early 20th Century is the scale. We are not curbing criminality.  Some predict that if the gun violence continues, Chicago may see 1000 or more people killed by years end.

Year to date, 3199 people have been shot. 544 souls were killed by gunfire. ( Every neighborhood in the city is experiencing violent crimes of one sort or another, including rapid transit stations and trains. Violence is out of control.

Some people believe there might be a Bernhard Goetz event in Chicago. In 1984, Goetz labeled the subway vigilante, shot four Black young men while riding in a subway car in New York City. A victim of a previous violent crime, he carried an illegal handgun. Goetz allegedly feared he was being robbed. He was convicted of illegal possession of a firearm. For a while, Goetz was considered a hero and attained local celebrity status.

Many people in Chicago and the suburbs have concealed carry permits, allowing them to carry a firearm. Any one of them could, out of fear alone, shoot someone. This would make “If it bleeds, it leads” headlines along with civil unrest if the victim is a person of color. 

A few predict or fear we may see vigilantism by concealed carry permit holders. These are legitimate fears. We do not need or want armed solo or groups of vigilantes wandering the city looking for human targets, causing more murder, mayhem, and civil unrest.

Public safety and public health are the top priorities for city government. Chicago did its best to keep us safe from COVID-19 and continues to do so. Chicago failed to keep us safe on the streets or in our homes and businesses. Throughout this violent year, failure was an option.

We needed change yesterday. It is not just City Hall failing us. It appears the whole criminal justice system is failing us, including prosecutors, courts, and the correction system.

The criminals believe there will be few severe consequences for their actions. They have little to fear. Whether we reside, work, traverse the city, or recreate, we have everything to fear.

We cherish the concept of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Lives are being taken, liberty is eroding due to fear, and we are not happy about it.

We, the citizens, are we the voters. The vote is a powerful cudgel we hold over the heads of our municipal and county officials. It is past time we use that cudgel to threaten their job security. Clean up the mess you made, or we will clean house.

Published inUncategorized