The FBI now confirms that murder and manslaughter were up almost 30 percent nationwide in 2020, and guns were used in more than three-quarters of homicides. But the problem isn’t weaponry. Poor choices are endemic. I came back to my hometown of Chicago for a closer look. And in 2021, citizens are prey on the city’s sidewalks.
Downtown on State Street that great street, pedestrians, viciously assaulted and lying prone in stunning pain, were robbed while onlookers twerked and filmed the spectacle. Parked motorists around the city get boxed in by vehicles from which emerge armed carjackers. They’re almost always young. And often free on low cash bail or probation for previous such offenses. Mass shootings are common. The wrong words at a party may quickly prompt flying bullets.
I walked east on 103rd Street, and a sign in the window of a bar said, “No One Under 30 Allowed.” Virtue is in remission. The city has gone mad.
Until late May of 2020, Chicago murders were running even with 2019. A good year, that. Just 492 slain. But 18 were killed on May 31 of 2020 in Chicago as post-George Floyd, riots and looting diverted police. The city went off its nut. There were 769 men, women, and children exterminated in 2020. More than 1,400 carjackings and some 128 expressway shootings. This year it’s worse.
A majority of the armed robbers, carjackers and murderers are young Black men. Black Lives Matter’s Chicago chapter has targeted the “false rhetoric of black-on-black crime.” BLM downplays bad choices and bad parenting, accenting instead “nuanced and myriad causal factors” such as “political, social, and economic realities.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot fosters Chicago‘s growing sociopathy. Black-on-Black murders? Systemic racism. Rotten NAEP and SAT outcomes and rotten college-completion rates for Black public school students in Chicago? A city school’s video fingers insidious “whiteness.” Four of every five births among Blacks in Chicago were to unmarried mothers for the 11 years the city measured. Doubtless, racism.
But what ails Chicago most now is systemic misrule by progressive elites of color who’ve levered strident leftism into the urban source code.
Latasha Fields talked with me at her kitchen table in Washington Heights on Chicago‘s South Side. Once a 17-year-old single teen mother working in a Burger King, Fields made a life as a realtor and then a Christian homeschooling entrepreneur and advocate.
She said to me, “You need to explain something to us Black people. Do Black lives only matter when a white cop takes a Black life?… Nobody wants the police defunded. Because our greatest enemy is ourselves…My Black sons have more chance to be killed by somebody that looks like them than a cop.”
Change starts from the ground up. In the micro-lending program run by Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI) in the city’s dramatically renewed Pullman neighborhood, about four of every five borrowers are Black. Some are ex-convicts. I met with CNI chief David Doig. He said that often the loans are for delivery vans. The hours are long, but the money can be good. That Amazon economy again. Borrowers sometimes return for fresh lending rounds to grow their fleets.
Malik Tiger grew up in Chicago‘s tough Roseland neighborhood on the South Side. His father was serving ten years. In a 2020 forum, he explained leaving the thug life. “Change has to come within, first. You have to get tired. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and be disgusted with who you is…I wanted something different.” The violence prevention program Chicago CRED and its partner services got Mr. Tiger grounded. He landed a job at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
“I actually just had a newborn son. I have my own apartment. I’m doing good for myself,” Mr. Tiger said.
There it is. Chicago‘s turnaround begins in its one million households. Despite a few men and women of conscience within its ranks, the city’s current political class is an exceedingly poor bet. Chicagoans must be the light.
• Matt Rosenberg is the author of “What Next, Chicago? Notes of a Pissed-Off Native Son” (Bombardier Books), available at amazon.com. He writes at chicagoskooled.com.
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