More cops on the streets of Chicago is not the answer to the horrific violence that has infected the city. It is a simplistic and naive response that is inadequate to address what is actually a constellation of factors contributing to a high incidence of violence.
Violence does not stem from one source. It has a high correlation to poverty, which is in turn caused by a broad lack of opportunity. By an educational system that has yet to determine how to provide an excellent education to poor children of color. By a dearth of vocational and college prep programs at the secondary level. And an absence of childcare and living-wage jobs in accessible communities. For this, Chicago must take responsibility, because intractable poverty leads to a lethal absence of hope, a potentially fatal illness that puts people at risk of losing a life worth living.
Ponder this scenario: Suddenly, every child in Englewood, North Lawndale, or any other poor neighborhood gets a serious case of polio; they can still walk, but in an impaired way, and if they don’t get some serious help, the disease will get worse. But the help does not come. And as they grow to adolescence, the effects of the polio takes more of a toll on their health, until they are unable to walk or take care of themselves. If they don’t have help, some of them will die. What is the program you would develop to deal with this situation?
It would have to be long-term, would involve an individualized treatment plan for the patient and her family, would be multi-layered and intensive. Because that is the only way you can address a complex and widespread affliction. It would cost a lot of money over an extensive period of time, but then the future of the entire next generation is at stake, right? So something must be done, and you need the same level and intensity of commitment to solving the problems of violence. Because violence is a disease that affects entire communities.
Okay, they’re not polio victims, ‘just’ victims of institutionalized racism, poverty and decades of neglect. Our attitude then is, ‘Let them fix their own damn problems, which are their fault anyway.’ Because as a society, we deem the problem to be unworthy of the resources needed to get the job done right. We simply lack the will to heal these communities.