An Open Letter to the Chi

Please, for the sake of the kids, stand up and take back your streets. The next huge crime weeekend is upon us: Independence Day. Last year over the Independence Day weekend, close to 70 people were shot, six of them fatally. We’re heading into July, and it’s only going to get hotter.

God, I miss that skyline!

Before I get into this special report, I’d like to thank Indie Drop-In for sponsoring today’s episode. A special thanks to Always Angry 94, Mack Tape, and Paige 87 for your very kind reviews.  If you haven’t yet, please send your five star reviews to Apple Podcasts.  They really help the show get noticed. 

 I can remember being a kid in Gary, IN.  Gary sits right outside of Chicago- a kind of unofficial suburb of the Windy City.  We had a blast in the summers.  We played outside the whole day and part of the evening.  Hide and seek, kickball, double dutch, and my favorites- football and basketball.  That was many years ago, but in my mind, it was yesterday.  I watched my son make the same type of memories- hanging out with the boys who would become like brothers to him.  It saddens me to think that those memories are out of reach for this generation of Chicago’s youth.  It is becoming difficult for today’s children to have a sense of innocence- they are increasingly being caught in the crossfire between the feuds of  young adults.  They have to be hyper-vigilant about their own safety.  It’s literally a matter of life and death, and it isn’t fair.

In this season of protest against the brutality many people of color face from police, it is only right to shed a light on the many victims of inner-city violence, particularly in Chicago.  Please, don’t mistake my message as getting on a soapbox, spouting the “black-on-black” crime rhetoric.  The truth is, I want us to care about us.  Our enemy is not only the subset of law enforcement who abuse their power- but it is also the cowards who are robbing our children of a future.

The weeks continue to get more and more deadly.  In fact, Chicago has surpassed the most deaths on a single day since they have kept records of this statistic.  The last day of May recorded 18 homicides, the most in 5 decades.  In fact, throughout May, 2020, there were over 1100 victims of gun violence.  Eleven hundred in just the first five months of the year.  If history is our guide, there will be an increase in homicides and shootings as the weather gets warmer.  

Father Michael Pfleger, a longtime activist against gun violence, has always had his ear to the ground on the South and West sides of the city.  He told the Chicago Sun Times that the word on the streets on that deadly weekend in May was that the police weren’t out patrolling.  Remember, that weekend was the beginning of the George Floyd protests.  Simultaneously,  there were groups of crusaders marching for a worthwhile cause, and would-be murderers seeking their adversaries.

There are areas that are over-policed- usually inner cities and disadvantaged neighborhoods.  I understand that a police presence may loom over these communities like a dark cloud- almost like they are just looking for a reason to pounce.  There are also neighborhoods like the South and West sides of Chicago.  It seems that these communities need an increased police presence because they can’t be trusted to police themselves.  How many children need to die? 

********Indie Drop-in******** .

I am from a place that believes in the “no snitches” rule.  I can also remember when, as a teenager, a group of us were heading to the corner store to get snacks on our way to play basketball.  A well-known drug dealer was in the parking lot.  He basically told us to keep it moving because some shit was about to go down at the store.  Without question, we continued on our way.  Am I putting this thug on a pedestal for giving us a heads up?  In a way, I guess I am.  Those were guys who lived by a code- if they knew you weren’t about that life they didn’t aim to make you part of it.  Another time, a different drug dealer came to a group of us who were hanging out under the streetlight after dark.  He told us to go in the house.  I wanted to argue, because we were having a great conversation, but the look on his face told me that something was about to go down in the street and I didn’t want to present for it.  

I never found out why either of these men had warned us to leave the area, but I lived to play another day.  These “so-called” gangsters and drug dealers today have no code.  They have no scruples.  They are ruining lives and destroying families with impunity.  These are NOT the type of people the hood needs to protect.  The hood needs to take its streets back- even if that means calling the police to your hood. 

A toddler and a 10-year-old child were killed in two separate incidents of gun violence in Chicago this weekend.

The 10-year-old girl died from her injuries on Sunday after she was shot in the head by a stray bullet that came through the window of her Logan Square home Saturday night, Chicago police said. She was transported to John H. Stroger Hospital where she later died, police told CNN.

Separately, a 20-month-old boy was fatally shot in the chest and his 22-year-old mother was grazed by a bullet while the two were driving home from the laundromat Saturday afternoon, according to Chicago Police and reports from CNN affiliate WBBM.

As of June 14, there have been 268 murders in Chicago, a 22% increase from last year’s total but slightly below the murder totals of 2017 and 2016, according to Chicago Police data.  Over Father’s Day weekend, 11 people were killed, including four children, and 67 others were wounded in shootings.

Brown on Saturday urged the public to offer any information they have on the shooting.

“We cannot compartmentalize the violence that is tearing families and communities apart. Someone knows something,” Brown said. “For the sake of Chicago’s children, please come forward to help bring the trigger pullers to justice.”

While we are discussing gun crime in Chicago, please be reminded that there are zero gun merchants in the city.  The question on many people’s mind is: where are these guns coming from?  As of 2018, 95% of the weapons used to commit crimes are not owned by the original purchaser.  In fact, Illinois’ gun laws are among the toughest in the country. The state requires citizens to have a permit to buy firearms and to report stolen or lost guns. Residents who want to sell their guns privately are also required to solicit a background check from state officials and to submit documentation of the sale.

This is where lax laws in other states come into play- namely, my home state of Indiana.  It is relatively easy to obtain a weapon in Indiana.  Any Illinois resident can quickly go over the state line and purchase a gun illegally from gun traffickers.  Gun shops also routinely get robbed- those guns are then distributed on the streets.  When they are eventually used to commit crimes, the roads never lead back to the black market sellers. In most cases, the gun has changed hands several times before law enforcement gets ahold of it.  

Then, finally, the criminal organizations in Chicago may have help from the inside.  It is not unusual for some officers to have gang affiliations.  This isn’t a conspiracy theory- it is a fact that there are some officers who serve two masters.  To further compound things, the NRA and other super-PACs have tremendous sway over politicians.  Our federal laws are terribly weak when it comes to gun control. Even with the ever-present threat of gunmen attacking children at school, little is done to ensure weapons don’t get into the wrong hands.

 Going into the conspiracy theory realm, there are many who believe that the ATF or CIA are dropping guns off in poor neighborhoods.  It’s said that they are hopeful that they can catch someone with one of these illegal weapons and make them a full time employee of the penal system.  There is no evidence that this is true- unless you take into account the following case, as reported by the Chicago Sun Times:

John Thomas, a resident in his 30s resorted to setting up illegal gun sales to help provide for his daughter.

Working through an informant, the ATF enticed Thomas to set up small gun deals by offering to buy weapons for a high price. All of the guns Thomas brokered deals for were actually purchased by the ATF.

Cases like Thomas’ begs the question of whether or not the ATF is eliminating gun dealers, or creating them.  Then there are the often reported claims that the CIA was supplying crack in inner cities in the 80s and 90s.  The truth is, the U.S. Justice Department and its agencies were aware of the Nicaraguan Contra-linked drug trafficking operations and allegedly thwarted local police investigations and blocked the prosecution of the Contra-linked cocaine traffickers.  Technically, they were complicit.  And if the government can do that, is there any wonder that a) black people believe that it would indeed supply weapons to warring gangs to fill prisons and b) we don’t really trust them?

This brings us back around to Chicago- is it shameful that there are innocent lives being lost? Of course it is.  It’s even worse when the president of the United States compares the city to Afghanistan.  Is Chiraq the most dangerous city in the country?   

Although Chicago is probably the first city that springs to mind when you think of crime in Illinois, the Windy City is actually not even  the most dangerous place in the state. With a violent crime rate of 1,386 incidents per 100,000 people, Rockford stands as the most dangerous city in Illinois. The murder capital of America isn’t Chicago, but it is in Illinois for the second straight year. With nearly one murder per 1,000 residents, last year’s murder capital is East St. Louis, IL and has a murder rate 17.5 times the national average, and 4 times Chicago’s murder rate.

Of course, the murders in Chicago become big news because it is a major city- and I’m directing most of my comments to the Chi because it’s so close to home.  I could easily insert other large cities every time I say Chicago- Stockton, California; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Cleveland, Ohio; Baltimore, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan- to name just a few.  

I am saying this to everyone within the sound of my voice- just like we want to hold law enforcement and elected officials accountable when lives are lost because of their actions; we need to hold our neighbors and ourselves to the same standards. Our children are not only our most precious possessions, they are our future.  We are letting them down.  

I had to speak on this because the crime rate in Chicago is still astronomical, but with a minimal amount of research, I have found proof that there are cities in worse predicaments.  I understand why the communities are frustrated and afraid to speak up.  Black people, people of color, and poor people of any race have far too many examples of being let down by not only law enforcement, but the govenment on both the state and national levels.  The news will lead you to believe that there is no more dangerous city in the US than Chicago when a quick Google search will shed a unique light on the city.  

My challenge to you is to be a change in your community.  When you see something, say something.  Sometimes, the politicians and police don’t feel how dire your situation is because they don’t live there.  You have to know that if your ten-year-old can’t dance in front of a window without catching a stray bullet, there is a huge problem.  If a baby is shot while strapped in his car seat, that is an issue. These kids deserve hide-and-seek.  They deserve to play kickball and double-dutch.  They should be able to chase the ice cream truck without dodging bullets.  The safety of your own community starts with you!  

My hope is that while we are lamenting the deaths of so many people at the hands of police, we also plan for how we will protect the babies.  When these rival factions terrorize neighborhoods with impunity, there is little incentive for them to stop.  Please, for the sake of the kids, stand up and take back your streets.    The next huge crime weeekend is upon us: Independence Day.  Last year over the Independence Day weekend,  close to 70 people were shot, six of them fatally.  We’re heading into July, and it’s only going to get hotter.

I know that this message is unpopular amongst my brothers and sisters.  Many feel like I’m siding with police but that’s the furthest from the truth.  I am siding with the young lives that are in danger every day.  I’m siding with the parents who are trying to raise children in a pressure cooker.  And, yes, I’m siding with officers who take the pledge to serve and protect our community seriously.  My words aren’t politically motivated because I have no political affiliation.  I am speaking truth, whether or not you want to hear it.  

That’s it for my open letter to the Chi- I’m going to give you two things to think about before I get out of here.  Crime Stoppers is an effective national program that collects anonymous crime tips. Anyone who wants to report drug activity can contact Crime Stoppers via phone or online. A national tip line is available 24/7, and the program also operates out of local offices. Witnesses to drug crimes can make an anonymous phone call or fill out an online form. What’s more, you can rest easy knowing that all Crime Stoppers workers are trained to protect the caller’s identity and, instead of caller ID, all incoming phone calls are assigned a numerical code. 1-800-222-TIPS

Also, On June 11th, Michael Hickson, a quadriplegic black man with COVID-19 was killed by a hospital in Austin Texas.

Doctors decided he had “no quality of life” and was not worth spending the resources to save.

Now, in this scenario that I read on Twitter, the race of the patient isn’t the most appalling aspect.  If true, even more appalling is that America has come to this.  The plug is being pulled on some of our most vulnerable citizens based on chance of a quality life.  Doctors and hospital staff are being forced to decide who is worth saving.  Why? Because people refuse to be socially distant from one another and/or wear masks.  The protesters have begun being diagnosed with Covid 19- so have the people who go to the beach, the bar, etc. I’m begging you on behalf of my elderly father and my best friend who suffers from COPD and congestive heart failure- wear your damn masks.  Protect your neighbors!

Sources & Shit

Indie Drop-In:

https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/blog/highest-murder-rate-cities

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/28/us/chicago-children-shooting/index.html

https://abcnews.go.com/US/chicago-sees-18-homicides-deadliest-day-60-years/story?id=71150234

https://robinkelly.house.gov/media-center/in-the-news/where-do-guns-used-to-commit-shootings-in-chicago-come-from

https://www.indystar.com/story/news/crime/2017/10/31/report-1-5-guns-recovered-chicago-crimes-come-indiana/816399001/

Crimestoppers National Hotline: CSUSA.org

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/investigations/defenders/quadriplegic-covid-19-patient-dies-after-austin-hospital-stops-treatment/269-6ffe3515-97b1-4962-beca-a3f9e0499a34