Thursday, June 09, 2011

Teenage mobs and Violence: Chicago Style

by Jamie Freveletti

By now probably half the world has heard about the recent attacks carried out by a group of teenagers against three different people, one a 68 year old. Crime in a big city is not so unusual as to create headlines, but mobs of teenagers heading out of their neighborhood to hit another and doing it in the early evening is news.

Earlier in the year I posted about my concerns involving Chicago's red line subway stop at Chicago/State. You can see the post here. Not surprisingly, the mobs used the red line and exited at this station to get to their victims. Also not surprisingly, the McDonalds there was the scene of an earlier disturbance, where it is alleged over 70 teens converged and the restaurant had to be shut down for several hours.

Two weeks ago I emerged at this corner on my way to the Magnificent Mile and found barrage of police. At least a dozen officers stood in front of the McDonalds. I knew that something must have happened, but this was several months after the McDonalds incident, so now we're talking new. While the show of force was good, it was another thing Chicago is, to my mind, becoming famous for: big talk and little action. And couple of weeks later the attacks happen only two blocks over on Chicago Avenue.

I'm not suggesting that the police can contain all crime, but I am suggesting that Chicago's residents are a pretty jaded group. We have several ex- governor felons, one in jail, one being tried and whole members of the infrastructure being indicted, but still the voters stay home. Our budget is in a shambles, our schools deteriorating and still the voters stay home. Now the one area that may be actually generating the tax base that Chicago needs to continue as a going concern is being attacked by roving gangs of teenagers and journalists wring their hands over whether they should identify the attackers' race (black, and they didn't) and another writes a piece on how the south side is different from the downtown area and crime there isn't reported or acted on enough, as if two wrongs somehow should make a right. And the mother of one of the attackers is quoted in the paper echoing this sentiment by complaining that the bail was too high and if her child had attacked someone on the South Side he would have gotten a lighter bond.

Notice how neither addresses the core problem: crime.

Enough. There is lot of handwringing, but basically a big shrug in the end. Chicagoans need to be outraged. They need to demand better and they need to get their butts to the voting booth and make a change in the best way that they can. And this new Mayor needs to crack down, and by that I mean inside his own City Hall. We've had enough crime start there as the round of indictments show and it spreads outward. As the saying goes: the fish rots at the head.

Let's hope this new fish can get it done. In the meantime, I'm headed to the dojo and then to the track to run. Looks like I'd better keep both skills honed.

7 comments:

Roger Wright said...

Jaime,

As you said--yes the core problem is crime. But the real heart of this is lack of outrage. By everyone. Not just the press or cops or politicians. Outrage expressed as you did here. Here's a piece I did that echoes what you are saying
http://open.salon.com/blog/chicago_guy

Thanks for speaking out on this.
Roger Wright

Jamie Freveletti said...

Roger-read the post and really liked it. Interesting comment on yours that the powers that be were trying to down play this but were forced to reveal after North Avenue Beach. Hiding the ball won't help-but that puts to rest the claim that no one would have mentioned it if it would have occurred on the South Side. Looks like equal opportunity silence from the administration until it boils over.

Dana King said...

I forget who said this, but it's true: we get the government we deserve. Look all around, not just at crime. So many chickens are coming home to roost we're going to have to get a bigger coop, but no one will want to pay for it.

Jamie Freveletti said...

Dana--your comment is right on. We get what we deserve. I just can't figure out the apathy.

M.E. said...

What's happening in our city, Chicago, is maddening. I'm thankful that I no longer commute to work via the Red Line. As a good citizen, I will continue to do my part to keep my community safe.

Jamie Freveletti said...

M.E.--I hear you re: commute. It's such hassle free way to avoid traffic that I hate to think about it being dangerous. I will be on it today again and will exit Chicago/State. We'll see if there's a police presence.

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