Over the past several weeks, the number of people either injured or murdered in shootings in Chicago has rapidly grown too large to keep track of. And as almost always happens with gang violence in poorer urban areas, the vast majority of the victims are Black or Hispanic. Now, some residents of those very neighborhoods in the Windy City are growing exasperated with the inability of the city to tame the violence and are hoping to do something about it themselves. While their methods and theory may be a bit dubious (more on that shortly), their hearts and goals are clearly in the right place.
A group named GoodKids MadCity has been working to shut down some of the violence through mutual cooperation and communication. One organizer, 22-year-old Nita Tennyson, who lost one of her best friends in a shooting last weekend, helped to organize a “love march” in an effort to get the community engaged in the process. (CBS Chicago)
In the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood on Saturday, youth from GoodKids MadCity led a “love march.” …
March organizers specifically focused on something called the Peacebook Ordinance.
“You need to fund the right things. You need to fund the community. You need to bring healing processes to the community, and that starts with mental health. That starts with getting all the resources you need,” Nita Tennyson said. “That starts with being able to take care of yourself, your children, making sure your family is safe, they can walk home, they can go to the store. Making sure there’s a store for them to go to. If there’s no resources, we can’t do anything.”
Young Ms. Tennyson has my sympathies for her recent loss and my encouragement in her efforts to address the underlying problems. As I’ve said during previous eruptions of similar gang violence in other cities, the real solution to endemic organized criminal violence has to start with the families, the churches and the social fabric of these communities. The police can’t do it all on their own. They need support from law-abiding residents who are willing to beat back the tide of criminal activity.
With that said, a few points in the GoodKids MadCity plan might need a bit of fine-tuning. GKMC has developed a plan they refer to as the “peacebook.” They’re looking for the municipal government to fund greater investment in the communities, supposedly removing the incentive for gang activity to proliferate. They want to “tackle gun violence by providing resources to struggling Black and Brown communities in Chicago.” They further claim that their actions should “incentivize street factions and gangs to go through a restorative justice process, so they can be accountable and heal from their trauma.”
Another organizer said that the gangs will “come to terms, and agree to peace treaties, and end the cycle of violence that has claimed the lives of women and children.”
Not for nothing here, but as lovely as this idea sounds, I’m not sure any of the street gangs in Chicago, Baltimore or elsewhere are really in the market for peaceful “restorative justice.” And while ceasefires and treaties between gangs aren’t entirely unheard of, they don’t generally tend to last long. Too many disputes are settled by someone not living to walk away from the negotiating table. Who from GKMC is going to meet with these gang leaders and hammer out the terms?
And where will the funding for these resource initiatives come from? According to the organizers, they are asking the city to “commit more resources to their communities, not just to more officers on the streets.” In other words, they want to at least partially defund the police and put that money into community aid efforts.
I’m sorry, but with a problem of this magnitude, you need both the long arm of the law and the cooperative, positive efforts of the community. One can’t come at the expense of the other because someone needs to keep the gang’s major shooters off the streets while you try to work out a peace plan. But as I said at the top, I wish them the best of luck. God only knows that Chicago needs a lot of help.