Check out this phenomenal articleabout one Chicago pastor and quest to understand and eradicate violence in the Windy City.
It’s truly a must read.
Nursing Trauma: How One Church is Going After Chicago’s Violence Epidemic
By Julian DeShazier
Chicago: the only city in the world to broadcast a local network in international syndication (WGN, thanks MJ); the Second City of comedy and career launch pad of laugh icons such as Bill Murray, John Belushi, and Tina Fey; and the “Windy City” — which is actually the 16th windiest city in the nation, but our politicians have been known to blow a lot of hot air (another topic altogether). We’re known for the ’85 Bears – the definition of DEFENSE in the NFL – and the ’08-’12 Cubs – the definition of LOSING (because by ’08, I meant 1908). Hugh Hefner began his media empire in Chicago, and our other less pornographic entertainment contributions include Kanye West, Common, R. Kelly, and Chess Records.
For people from Chicago, our city is one thing: “The Crib.” That’s what we call it, and we love it despite its problems. Oh yeah, the problems …
For all its deep dish pizzas and –style hot dogs, The Crib is one of the most violent cities in the world.
When I say in the world, I mean that 1,976 Americans have died in Afghanistan since 2001, and there have been 5,056 murders in Chicago during the same period. (A specious stat for a number of reasons, but let’s move toward the point people are getting at when they mention this). This is a dangerous town. “How do we stop it?” is the million dollar question, and will net someone a Nobel Peace Prize if they can figure it out.
At this point, I’m ready to throw my hands in the air: “God, it’s CRAZY in these streets.” DO SOMETHING.
The answer I keep getting back is the same as my prayer: Do Something. But what?
Getting to Know Violence in Chicago
How violence begins is mostly understood. Here’s the widely accepted equation:
Poverty + Ghetto-ization + a Culture of Violence + Gangs + Access to Guns + Drugs = Violence
On the left side of the equation, everything seems true. Many Chicagoans experience a scarcity of resources; many of them are black and poor and live together (if you didn’t know, Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the nation: everybody has a “town,” and the boundaries are invisible but strict). America does seems to have a fixation on Chicago’s rich history of mobbishness and corruption (thank you VH1 for “Mob Wives: Chicago”), and there is a curiously high level of access to guns in Illinios (perhaps because of too strict gun laws?). Plus, the paradigm of the Street Gang as Corporation began in Chicago, drugs are everywhere, and most if not all of the violent crimes in Chicago are related to one or a combination of the factors on the left side of the equation.
So far, we have tried fixing the right side of the equation by fixing the left side: sound mathematical logic. Rainbow PUSH wants the government to create more jobs (poverty); lack of affordable housing and racist policies have kept violence in concentrated areas – some people are writing about that (Ghetto-ization); others are boycotting VH1 and its portrayal of reality, which is both wicked and unreal (Culture of Violence); Rev. Jesse Jackson and other church pastors are picketing to close down gun stores, while the Illinois State Rifle Association is looking to ease restrictions, which may kill channels of illegal trafficking and cause us to be more civil with one another (if that old lady has a gun in her purse, you might leave her alone – or so goes the logic). One organization – CeaseFire – focuses on none of these but looks at stopping retaliation. Their basic logic is that “violence begets violence” (ala MLK, who knew about Matthew 26:52) and if you want to stop the cycle you have to insert someone into the cycle at critical moments (after one violent act and before another). These people are called “Interrupters,” and the documentary on their work is gaining global buzz.
And then there’s Bill O’Reilly, who recently said the National Guard should be deployed into Chicago. Besides him betraying his Conservative sensibilities (He wants the government to help people because they cannot help themselves?), this is a terrible idea. But it deserves mention because nothing else has worked.
For all the success of CeaseFire and “CompStat” – the Chicago Police Department’s latest strategy of turning people into numbers — the murder rate is up 50 percent in Chicago from this time last year. So how do we stop it? I don’t think we’re seeing the complete picture.
How can we put an end to the violence plaguing our communities?
Sound off below!