The War of Chicago
One of the first things I noticed when I moved to Chicago two years ago was the very low attention gunshot killings received from the local news media.
As I flipped through the pages of the Chicago Tribune, I’d see a few dozen words accompany headlines depicting the murders of young people. Every day there would be a short clip on some violent death. Very rarely did these stories make the front page.
I am certain very few people outside Chicago – but probably even in the city itself – realize the neighborhood war that is undergoing in certain areas of the city.
The filmed death of high school student Derrion Albert was an eye-opener for most people. President Barack Obama was so shocked that he sent Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Chicago to let everyone know the government was going to lend a hand… but has it?
WLS-ABC7, the local ABC affiliate station, is showing a series of reports it made during just one night on the city’s South Side. I think having more media exposure can only help certain areas to come out of the dark.
The big picture is clear, it always has been: These are neighborhoods that have been abandoned. Police, schools, politicians… everyone has turned their backs.
This isolation has generated massive cancers in the form of violent and armed gangs.
Now people are asking, praying the Illinois National Guard step in and take over. But this is a temporary solution that is bound to fail in the long run.
What isolated and crime-infested areas of enormous cities like Chicago need is a serious recovery plan.
Education and safety go hand in hand and one cannot be achieved without the other.
If the billions of dollars spent for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were to be spent on scholarships, grants, public school funding, creation of parks, serious commercial development in underserved areas through federally sponsored initiatives and jobs, maybe this situation could really start changing for the better. Maybe a new and vibrant middle class could be generated.
The United States has a wonderful resource to get out of the economic slump it’s in right now: its own people. Why it lets so many of them down is a question I ask myself often.