Nothing Mayor Rahm Emanuel can say at his crime policy speech Thursday night will stop the violence that’s coming Chicago’s way this weekend.
He’ll talk about the addition of hundreds more police, about education, tougher gun sentences for repeat felons.
And he’s expected to take a great political risk in talking about the lack of proper parenting in the most violent, impoverished neighbourhoods, those districts where nihilistic young men without much hope pull the triggers and leave bodies on the ground.
But words won’t stop children being shot to death. Words won’t raise the baby born the other day to Parasha Beard, 19, who was killed while sitting in a car Sunday on the South Side.
Words can’t console the mother of Demetrius Griffin Jr. He was 15, a freshman at Steinmetz High School, and was found in a trash can on the West Side over the weekend, his body burned beyond recognition.
Words can’t heal any of that. Yet the mayor must do something, and it starts with words.
With more than 3,000 shot already this year and more than 500 killed, Chicago is being savaged by violence. Chicago in the national mind has become bloody Chicago, a town of gangs running wild, slaughtering innocents and gangbanger soldiers on the streets of his city.
President Barack Obama stays away. Hillary Clinton stays away. Rahm is left, the ultimate boss of a police force that in his own words has gone “fetal.” So it’s his duty to say something. He’s the mayor of Chicago.
As one of his harshest critics, I’ve complained about him often. About his imperiousness and his silence, and his cynicism at City Hall, which pretended Chicago didn’t need more cops, and which suppressed that hideous Laquan McDonald video so as not to lose African-American votes so that he would win re-election.
I’ve also been critical of the Democratic Party’s role in helping to cynically maintain the urban underclass in poverty, with substandard education and entitlements doled out to secure a reliable party-line vote. That isn’t politics. That’s a crime of civil rights. It has gone on for decade after decade under machine bosses in big cities across America. And yet, without African-American votes, there is no Democratic Party.
That said, when Emanuel stands up and addresses the troubling issues Thursday night at Malcolm X College, what he doesn’t deserve is immediate criticism.
What he deserves is for the city to hear him out.
If he says what I expect him to say, then Emanuel will be showing he has the guts to take this problem on.
Emanuel, according to my sources who know his mind exceedingly well, is expected to deliver a state of the city address on crime.
Education is a part of it, as is adding more cops. Some of this is, of course, budget magic. But it is also about reorganising the police force to push more police serjeants out from behind desks and into the neighbourhoods where they’re needed to supervise officers.
And he’ll be taking a huge political risk when he, as my sources tell me, focuses on the lack of fathers in single-parent homes from which so many of the violent are raised. Some voices in Chicago have already warned him. Those voices have said, “Don’t go there,” as if skin pigment is a precursor for thinking about these problems, as if a white Jewish man raised in Wilmette has no business talking about the central issue: