Monday, March 4, 2013

Is there anybody out there?

It’s time for another really stupid idea from an elected official. A few weeks ago, it was some members of the city council complaining about Superintendent McCarthy’s  tenure, and that he “better show some results."Seriously, does anybody think that changing the police superintendent will change any dynamic in the streets?

Sunday, it was Chicago city treasurer calling for a “Stop and Frisk” program to combat gun violence.  That’s right, the program in New York that essentially gives the police the freedom to harass black and brown men. Civil rights groups have been fighting hard to end stop and frisk in New York.  While the vast majority of stop-frisk victims are black or brown a very small percentage of these men are ever convicted. That is, it’s not effective. But why bother with facts?
It would appear to be a mantra among the establishment-types that since the police can stop crime, more police can stop more crime. This premise has been found to be false in many ways again, why bother with facts? Never mind the incredible history of police brutality in this city, against black and brown people, especially men, more police must be better, because it makes some (people in power) feel better. It’s interesting that many people pushing this idea don’t seem to notice how close it is the NRA’s position that the answer to gun violence is . . . more guns.
The factors that lead to violence are complex and involve many factors--one bill, law, insert some-quick-fix-idea here is not going to fix anything. By definition then, you can’t expect a serious response from the average politician. Still, the complete and utter lack of thought and insight coming from the political class is disturbing.  It is a simple fact that these communities that have these high levels of violence are communities that have the highest levels of poverty. They are not poor by accident, they are not made any poorer because of decreased marriage rates or whatever you consider a marker of “family values”.  No, the south and west side are communities designed to be made poor way by years of policies implemented at the local and national level. Therefore, the only way to change this is by changes in local and national policies, specifically by putting money and resources into these communities. In addition, there are many, many groups working on these issues and I am sure they would have something to say if somebody asked them.  There needs to be a real conversation between the people on the ground and the people in charge about what needs to happen in order to decrease violence in this city, and the people in charge need to listen.

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