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Tag: Chicago violence

The Rittenhouse trial is a nothing burger

Image: PV Bella

The numbers in Chicago year to date:
• 719 people shot and killed
• 3385 people shot and wounded
• 4104 total people shot
• 764 total homicides (As of this morning/HeyJackass!)

Those are the numbers. Dry, hard, cold numbers. Those are people, human beings. People who suffered wounds, death, grief, and mourning. Families whose lives were shattered. The numbers go on day after day, violence, death, and bloodshed.

Every neighborhood in Chicago is experiencing violent crimes. Nowhere and no one is safe in this city. There is the looting of high-end stores on the Gold Coast, stealing tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from each. Stores are looted in some of the neighborhoods. There are daily armed carjackings, terrorizing people.

As the daily violence goes on, the city is supposedly preparing for the outcome of the insignificant Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Wisconsin. This headline from the Chicago Tribune proclaims, “Kyle Rittenhouse case goes to jury in Kenosha as polarized nation awaits verdict.”

How does the Chicago Tribune know the nation awaits this verdict? Did they send reporters across the country to interview people? Did they make phone calls to thousands or millions of people? Did they even stop for a minute to check if their mothers really loved them just because they told them so?

I do not get it. I do not give a rat’s rear end about the Rittenhouse trial. The incident happened someplace else. Where are our local media’s hormonal panting headlines and extensive compelling coverage of the murder and mayhem occurring daily in Chicago?

Where are editorials and columns about the violence and the innocent victims? Where is the media outrage over children- toddlers and infants- being shot? What makes the Rittenhouse trial worthy of tabloid-style reporting ala the National Enquirer?

There are murder trials every day in Chicago, and they get little gripping coverage, with headlines- “A city awaits the verdict…” All we get from our local news media is crickets.

Why should Chicago await a verdict in a trial that has nothing to do with Chicago? It Is a trial in Wisconsin. There is nothing special about it. It is being sensationalized for one reason, money, kachingos. The news companies want those clicks and viewers to drive ad revenue. They use propaganda- they call it a narrative- to get people to watch or click on their articles.

Where is the tabloid-like headlines and reporting of the violence and bloodshed here? Why are our local news media, editorial boards, and columnists dead silent on the daily violence?

If Chicagoans care about an insignificant trial in Wisconsin more than they do about the murder and mayhem at home, then we have a real problem in this city. Why? Because these are the same people who vote for the incompetent elected officials who are doing little to curb the violence. They vote for the mayor, alderpersons, State’s Attorney, Cook County Board President, Sheriff, and judges. These are the people who control the criminal justice system and are responsible for public safety.

We see the results of those votes in the numbers of dead and wounded people. We see the results of their votes in the lives shattered by violence. We see the results of those votes in the lives of people living in fear.

If you care more about a trial in Wisconsin than violent crime in your hometown or neighborhood, then you are part of the problem. We deserve better from our local news media and elected officials. It is past time to hold their feet to the fire and demand better.

Why we stay

The fountain at Giddings Plaza/Image: PV Bella

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. There are 77 geographic areas in Chicago. Neighborhoods are made up of communities that may consist of one or more blocks. Each neighborhood is distinct.

My first assignment on the Chicago Police Department was the 010 District, called Marquette. The district spanned part of Lawndale, the Little Village and Heart of Chicago neighborhoods. I spent most of my street training in Lawndale. I spent almost ten years working in those neighborhoods. Even though they overlapped, each was distinct.

Lawndale was one of the most impoverished and dangerous neighborhoods in the city. In the early 80s, a national newspaper cited the ten most dangerous neighborhoods in the country. Lawndale came in at number three. Number one and two were in New York City. Number four was Watts, in Los Angeles.

Lawndale was a place where hope died. If there was nothing left to steal, thieves stole your dreams. There were some middle and working-class people living there. One night, we responded to a burglary. The victims were a middle-aged African American couple. The gentleman was a driver for Coca-Cola. His wife was a public-school teacher. Both were well-paying jobs.

My African American partner asked them why they still lived in Lawndale, as they were people of means and could live any place they wanted. They said they were born and raised in the neighborhood. They met, married, and raised their children in the house they owned. Lawndale was home.

There is a big difference between a house and a home. A house is a shelter, the roof over your head. A home is where you make a life. It is your house, block, and neighborhood. A home is your nearby relatives and friends. It is where you worship if you are a person of faith. If you are a lifelong resident, it is where you were born, went to school, played sports, recreated, got married, and buried.

There were other people like that couple who made their lives in Lawndale. They owned homes or small apartment buildings. They stayed, raised their families, and retired, despite all the problems. Lawndale was home.

No matter the conditions, from danger to crippling property taxes, we stubbornly stay because we made the neighborhood our home. Where else are we going to go?
Now that the violence is spreading out to every neighborhood in Chicago, with no end in sight, many people are afraid to walk or drive the streets, especially at night. Many are threatening to leave the city. Frequently,

My neighborhood is my home. It is where I’ve lived for over fourteen years. Everything I need or want is in this neighborhood. I have good neighbors and friends. It is where I socialize. There are two large parks and a plaza to enjoy. It is convenient, as I can get anywhere in the city quickly on public transportation. If I did move, I would stay in the neighborhood. A condo, apartment, or house is only a roof over my head. The neighborhood is home.

This concept of home is what we need to understand. People put down roots in a neighborhood. No matter how bad things get, they stay. It is home. We cannot blame them for staying, even if they are crime victims.

Chicago is going through a rough time with citywide violent crime out of control. It is anarchy. That will not move most of us from our home neighborhoods. No matter what happens, most of us stay put.

My neighbors and I made our lives where we live. We are here for the long haul. We are staying put, no matter what happens. We are a neighborhood, a community. This is our home.

Who Speaks for the Dead

Image: PV Bella

“We speak for the dead,” was a saying among homicide detectives and Forensic Services personnel on the Chicago Police Department. No one else speaks for the dead in Murder City.

The saying means they would move heaven and earth to get justice for murder victims. The mayors and alderpersons do not speak for the dead. The State’s Attorney’s Office does not speak for the dead. The courts do not speak for the dead. The local news media does not speak for the dead.

We are in the middle of August. As of yesterday, 270 victims were shot, 44 were killed. From Friday through Sunday, 47 victims were shot and 5 were killed, including two purported mass shootings. 

On Sunday a 7-year-old child was murdered, in the Belmont Central neighborhood while sitting in a parked car. Her 6-year-old sister is fighting for her life. The death toll of children, down to toddlers and infants is heartbreaking.

Every single murder victim was a son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, niece, nephew, cousin, or grandparent. The families of the dead mourn, grieve and suffer the loss of a loved one. No matter their past or present transgressions, no one deserves to be murdered. Too many are innocent bystanders. 

The dead and their families cry out for justice. Justice is denied. Detectives, forensic investigators, and street cops are stretched thin. They are overwhelmed. There are not enough of them to investigate, close cases, make arrests, and take them to trial.

Our elected officials sit on the sidelines offering nothing. There is no plan. There is failure after failure.

Communities live in fear of retaliation if they cooperate with the police. No one is safe. No neighborhood is safe. Good people want to help, but not at the expense of their lives or the lives of their loved ones. 

How many more people must be killed before someone says enough is enough? 

Forget about the root causes of crime, the systemic this or that, faulting parents, and other phony issues ginned up by alleged experts with no expertise or whack jobs on social media.

It is past time to change the conversation. It is past time for aldermen, especially aldermen whose wards are most affected by the violence to step up. They are as responsible as the mayor for public safety.

We need more people to speak for the dead. The Chicago Police Department needs more detectives and forensic specialists. We need a prosecutor who is willing to prosecute crimes instead of nit-picking detectives to provide more and more and more evidence.

We need the courts to stop releasing dangerous people out on low or recognizance bonds. Electronic monitoring is failing.

Chicago elected officials are losing credibility every day in this Summer of Violence. Talk is cheap. Phony raw emotions will not abate the murder and mayhem. We need people to speak for the dead, in the communities, in City Hall, in the State’s Attorney’s office, and in the courts.

Either be part of the solution or get the hell out of the way.

Hello City Hall

Image: PV Bella

After being locked down for 15 months, Chicago looked with anticipation to celebrating the Fourth of July weekend.

For too many, the celebration turned into grief and mourning. More than 100 people were shot, including two Chicago police officers. Depending on other sources, up to 18 or more people were killed by gunfire.

Hordes of young people descended on the downtown area in what was termed as a wilding. They created havoc, blocking streets, dancing on cars, setting fires, and shooting fireworks at the police.

The Fourth of July weekend proved that the politicians and police leadership lost control of Chicago. The city is like the fictional wild west. It is violent and out of control.

We are on the road to a long hot murderous summer, with no end in sight. Children, even infants, are being wounded and killed.

Mass shootings are on the rise across the city. Rifles are more prevalent, increasing the number of innocent victims.

The Chicago Police Department is demoralized, working twelve-hour shifts with days off canceled. Officers are confused about what they are allowed to do to prevent violent crimes due to no direction from the police leadership and City Hall.

The superintendent of police is out of his league. Chicago is not Dallas. He is leading from behind. This is what happens when cities bring in mercenary outsider police leaders instead of promoting them from the ranks.

The toolbox police officers use to control, prevent, and curb crime is padlocked.

The criminals are brazened and brave. They fear nothing, not jail or prison, not injury or death. They terrorize this city with impunity. Our elected officials are cowering in fear of activist and social media backlash if the unlock the police toolbox and let the officers do their jobs.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Superintendent Brown must step up and step in. They must give direction and allow the police to do their job.

The police toolbox must be unlocked, and all the legal and constitutional tactics within should be employed. The feds should be investigating the gangs, drug, and illegal gun dealers with the same zeal they went after the Chicago Outfit. They should revive the publicity mill they used in the past to identify the major players. Citizens need to know who these people are.

This is going to be a long hot summer of bloodshed and death if the mayor, alderpersons, and police superintendent do not get a handle on the violence in our streets. Right now, no neighborhood is safe from violent outbursts. 

Last week members of some communities gathered and begged the city to do something besides holding press conferences. Alderman Ray Lopez, the City Council voice against violence, is the only alderman consistently addressing the issue. He is being ignored and shut out.

Where are the other forty-nine?

If superintendent Brown cannot handle the violence pandemic, he should saddle up his horse and head back to Texas.

The time for talking, finger-pointing, and blaming is over. The time for worrying about social media and news media backlash is over. Someone in charge must act, or the havoc, mayhem, bloodshed, and murder will continue.