Thousands of residents of Chicago participated in a march against gun violence this Saturday that closed down Interstate 94 (the Dan Ryan Expressway) that runs through the heart of the city. Similar to residents of Cleveland, Baltimore and other urban areas, the demonstrators are fed up with the gun violence that plagues black communities, as well they should be.
The marchers were led by Father Michael Pfleger, a somewhat radical Catholic priest, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson as they carried signs that stated, “Enough is Enough” and “Stop the Violence.” They interrupted traffic to call attention to their demands that public officials do more to put an end to the endless shootings that have turned their neighborhoods into little more than killing fields. We know about that since we just buried a beautiful nine-year-old.
The demands the marchers articulated were for additional resources to be devoted to the communities they reside in, including jobs, better schools and stronger gun laws. While I feel the frustration and pain of these aggrieved citizens, I hate to be the one to inform them the solutions they are demanding will not stop the violence — at least not in the short term.
The solutions the demonstrators put forth will work in the long term: Better schools will lead to better education, which will lead to more and better jobs. While it’s amazingly easy for me to write this, for a number of reasons — racism chiefly among them — these obvious solutions have been amazingly difficult to implement. For every step that minorities make in a positive direction, conservative, reactionary forces in America use the Republican Party to legislate against our progress. And this is going to continue for the foreseeable future.
So if there is to be any meaningful reduction in gun violence other tactics are going to have to be utilized: Primarily, getting the guns out of the hands of the buck-wild young men responsible for the vast majority of the shootings and killings. And the way to do that — in Chicago, as well as Cleveland, Baltimore and other cities where this is a problem — is twofold.
First, the people that are close to these gangbangers — family members, girlfriends, acquaintances — have to do their civic duty and drop a dime before someone is shot and perhaps killed. Second, cops and the courts have to become more aggressive with the potential killers. Statistics show that by the time a young thug aims a gun at someone and pulls the trigger they have had — on average — seven prior run-ins with the police. Many are on probation for previous gun crimes. The killers of the nine-year-old here in Cleveland were known to police.
While I’m certainly against mass incarceration of young black males as a solution (i.e., for non-violent drug crimes), as well as sentences that are ridiculously long, I am all for locking away young men who have adopted the way of violence and the code of the street, at least until they grow up. And positing that a lack of jobs is part of the problem that leads to violence is sheer and utter nonsense that we should purge from our thinking. I’m not talking about what I’ve heard; I’m talking about what I know to be a fact: The vast majority of our young men that have been claimed by the streets are not interested in any kind of job. Period.
They’re engaged in what is called “stinkin’ thinkin’” — that they are going to be rich gangsters draped in gold chains, driving around in luxury cars and dropping hundred dollar bills at the strip club every night. Trust me on this — the only way to stop them is to lock their little asses up, and oh, make them get a GED while they’re behind bars or they don’t get to come home.
From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.