It is often the little stuff in a news story that catches my eye. I read earlier in the day that it was another summer Saturday night in Chicago as the shootings kept coming. The number went up throughout Sunday as the chaos of the prior evening is sorted through but as of now "at least 41" people were shot and 4 have died. 25 people were shot in a 2 1/2 hour spree including an 11 year old boy who was inexplicably hanging around in a group of people at 2:35 AM. Even on a Saturday night, why is an 11 year old wandering around the streets? He, like many other teens and a bunch of girls and women, were apparently caught in the cross-fire and many of these teens were out apparently unsupervised after midnight in a city and in neighborhoods where gunfire is a common occurrence.
As you can imagine, the local hospitals were overwhelmed. Many shooting victims were taken to Stroger Hospital, a name I recognize from regularly reading the reports from Chicago's violence epidemic. At one point there were apparently over 200 people waiting to check on loved ones and relatives. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, people could be overheard on their cell phones plotting revenge on the shooters, who are known but no one goes to the police, while their friend or relative is still in the hospital being treated for their injuries. Tensions flared among those waiting: "A fight nearly broke out about 9:15 a.m. between two groups.".
But that is just a pretty typical weekend in Chicago. What got me riled up were statements from local Congressman Danny Davis. Davis is an elderly black Congressman who is associated with the "Democratic Socialists of America" and is unapologetically pals with noted racist and anti-Semite "Reverend" Louis Farrakhan. Davis is quoted in the Sun-Times as follows:
About a half hour later, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis showed up at the parking lot to offer comfort to people, many of whom are constituents.
“We continue to try to develop enough resources to prevent these kind of incidents from happening,” Davis told reporters, expressing frustration with a lack of government funding for programs that could prevent street violence.
“I’ll be willing to bet that many of the people who are here right now to express concern are also unemployed, don’t have jobs, are frustrated in terms of daily living,” he said.
This is the same tired old line we hear over and over. It is what the marchers who have shut down highways in Chicago keep saying. We need more money, more programs, more government intervention. Jobs programs and basketball leagues are not going to stop this. This is an issue with a culture that glorifies violence, that sees shooting into a crowd as a reasonable response to a slight, that sees the only way to deal with murder is to murder someone else in retaliation. It is a culture where kids are taught to fear and hate cops to the point that they will not aid an investigation into a murder, and then turn around and complain that the police don't solve enough murder cases. There are plenty of impoverished areas in this country but you don't see murder and shootings like this in Appalachia. Men don't shoot into a crowd where 11 year old children and women are present because they are out of work, especially when unemployment is at record lows. They shoot into those crowds because something is culturally broken, something that can't be fixed by after-school programs. You can't substitute a stable family with government and charity.
Ironically yesterday was the first ever "Barack Obama Day", an official state holiday in Illinois to celebrate the birth of President Obama. It is ironic because under Obama's watch violent crime soared to unprecedented levels in his own hometown. Last night, following this state holiday celebrating the birth of America's first black President, dozens of black men and women and children in his own home town ended up in the hospital, four of them so far in the morgue.
This epidemic of murder and retaliation can't be solved by the government nor can it be solved by diverting the blame. The solution has to come from within the black community. As long as the culture refuses to change, the cycle of violence will continue.