The Chicago south side neighborhood of Englewood is ripe with violence and has been described as a battlefield. According to the New York Times, the Seventh Police District, which patrols most of Englewood, led the city in homicides last year with 60. The Seventh and the 11th District, on the West Side, accounted for about 25 percent of the city’s homicides last year. This year, the two districts have had about a third of them. So far in 2012, there have been 400 hundred murders, and at least 320 of them have been gang related.
Walter Jacobson, a reporter with CBS2 in Chicago, wanted to find answers to the violence. So he went straight to the source. He sat down with several gang members from the Englewood section, to see what insight they had to offer. But unfortunately, he didn’t receive very encouraging words.
“There’s no solution to the violence,” one gang member tells him. “Killing, killing is the solution.”
This is the sad commentary, which is many people’s reality, whether you’re living in Chicago, or another neighborhood marred with violence. Gang members can’t see beyond making their next dollar, or trying to live to see the next day. “We’ve got to eat. We want to. We want money. We want to get fresh, we want fresh eggs almost every day. We want all that,” another young man said. In making their next dollar, they do what they have to do. “Rob, steal and kill. That’s the only way. We didn’t grow up in Beverly Hills. We don’t get it handed to us,” he said.
What would it take to show these young black men that killing and violence are not the solutions? Most of these men don’t even know if they’re going to be alive in 10 years. When Jacobson asked where did they seem themselves in 10 years, one said living in a mansion with lots of cars and women. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Taken straight out of a Rick Ross video. Another gang member said he just hopes that he’s alive in 10 years. You have to wonder what is the probability of that happening.
When you’re surrounded by death, drugs and violence at such a young age, like most of these men, do you know any better? Most of these gang members were brought into the gangs by “OGs” when they were kids. And if history repeats itself, they’re probably inducting a whole new generation as well.
Not only are the gang members at war with rival gangs, they are also at work with the Chicago Police Department. “The police hate us,” a young man said. “Every time they ride past us, they shoot us down and do all that. Do what you want to do, I don’t care about you all, keep riding. Who are you all? We’re not scare of you all. I’ll fight you too. Take that badge off.”
With not enough manpower to control the gang violence, many feel that the police departments are out numbered. One solution proposed by the Chicago Crime Commission is that the city increases the number of sworn police officers by 1,400 and work to prosecute armed gang members to the fullest extent of the law.
“By increasing law enforcement manpower levels and taking a tough stand on prosecutions, we will send a message to the gang bangers that law enforcement means business and will not tolerate this senseless violence any longer. Similarly, local residents and businesses will become safer and able to live and work securely in Chicago’s neighborhoods as a result of this powerful two-pronged approach,” said Art Bilek, Executive Vice President of the Chicago Crime Commission.
Stating the problem is always easier than finding a solution. People will always cite tougher gun laws and longer jail sentences as solutions. But what can you do to help young black men before it gets to that point?
What is the solution to the killing and violence? Is there one?