What To Do About Chicago?

There are contrasting views on how to dig Chicago out of its hole. Here’s the first from Tom Rogan at DC Examiner:

First off, Chicago needs to increase its rewards for justice and witness protection programs. Unless residents feel they can submit evidence with confidence of their own security, most will avoid doing so.

Second, federal prosecutors need to bring more Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, prosecutions against identified gang leaders. That course of action would deter violence at the margin by introducing far more significant costs on gang leaders for their underlings criminal conduct.

Third, Chicago should dramatically ramp up its already significant use of remote video cameras to monitor crime hot spots. As an extension, the mayoral candidate should run on a pledge to have the police increase their stop-and-search activity against young men in violent neighborhoods. Community tensions are now the secondary concern to imminent risk of violence.

Fourth, recognizing the need to do more in an exceptionally stretched budgetary environment, as in Camden, N.J., in 2012, the Chicago Police Department should face a choice. A choice, that is, between disbandment and a new deal that reduces their per-officer operating costs and allows the city to hire hundreds of new officers at present budget levels. It is ludicrous that as the shootings continue, the Chicago Police Department remains notoriously inefficient.

Ultimately though, Chicago needs a mayor who is willing to rip up the playbook. Ramhbo has failed and his blood-drenched streets are the proof of it.

An alternative view comes from Kim Bellware at the New York Times:

Giving the police more of anything — more numbers, more money, more liberties — to quell violence is still a reactionary, and thus limited, posture. And yes, so is simply calling for tougher gun laws (regulations the city of Chicago has, but its immediate surrounding area does not). To the communities affected, policing and gun laws are only parts of the puzzle.

Missing from Mr. Giuliani’s playacting concern for Chicago — and too often absent from the familiar pattern of reactions in our media — is an exploration of what the communities whose residents are being disproportionately shot and killed say they want.

On the city’s predominantly black and Latino South and West Sides, there are some who may want more police officers and stricter gun laws, and some who may not. But surely none wants only those things.

There’s been talk, fanned by President Trump, of sending in the National Guard. And the city is actively pursuing plans to spend $95 million on a new police training center.

But the activist and community groups already on the ground like The Black Youth Project 100 and Assatta’s Daughters have long been arguing for a more holistic plan of action that unifies increased resources with organized mentorship of the most at-risk young people and more investment in educational programming, along with more democratic police accountability.

A frequent and inaccurate response to Chicago’s gun violence is that the people most affected by it aren’t doing anything to change it. Many are doing whatever they can.

Most recently, community groups like CureViolence and The Faith Community of St. Sabina Church helped organized peaceful protests that took over the Dan Ryan Expressway and Lake Shore Drive — the city’s most famous thoroughfare — to try to bring the attention and political urgency necessary to shake local institutions into seeing them as equal partners in identifying remedies.

For all the years Chicago has struggled with gun violence, there’s never been a fully energized effort by the city’s Democratic machine to create that sort of Marshall Plan. Yet there has never been a Republican proposal for such a holistic approach, either.

Much of her attention is focused on criticizing Rudy Giuliani’s remarks. In fairness the last time a Republican was Chicago mayor was 1931. Said another way it makes not an iota of difference what proposals Republicans do or do not put forward. Chicago’s problems must be solved by Democrats.

What is clear is that Rahm Emanuel’s program of gentrifying Chicago leaves out the people of the South and West Sides of Chicago, where the carnage is occurring.

15 comments… add one
  • TastyBits Link

    What the innocent people in these areas need are suitcases and U-Hauls. If the neighborhood where either Ms. Bellware or Mr. Rogan became a free-fire zone, they would move, but poor people (black, brown, yellow, red, or white) do not have this option.

    All of their proposals are comical, but the funniest is the “witness protection program”. If the witness protection program were to move the witnesses into Mr. Rogan’s or Ms. Bellware’s neighborhood, this might work, but I suspect that neither would allow this.

    Furthermore, most of these schemes will fail because criminals are businessmen whose business happens to be illegal. Criminals are no different than their legal counterparts. Both understand that there are risks, and both accept these risks as the ‘cost of doing business’.

  • Gray Shambler Link

    Wherever and when ever feasible, use eminent domain to purchase, clear out an level these neighborhoods. Build upscale homes that will increase property tax receipts. The current residents will find rentals elsewhere, hopefully more scattered and integrated.
    In the long run, everybody will be better off.

  • That’s already happening, GS. Use Google Streetview some time to look at the South Side. Lots of empty lots.

    The people are moving alright—out of Chicago.

  • Guarneri Link

    And to riff off of Dave’s observation, that doesn’t necessarily mean out of state. So, for example, the suburb of Flossmoor has had substantial increases in middle class blacks. Glenwood as well. But more near in suburbs, and places like Lansing or Chicago Heights have become absolute rat holes with migration. (The west side tends to be penned on by Oak Park, or even Maywood and, gulp, Cicero.)

    I’m afraid Chicago is going to have to solve its SSide and West Side problems in place.

  • Guarneri Link

    Think outside the box, Tasty. Midnight basketball, on a shut down Dan Ryan. That’s the ticket. Do you want to tell Ms Bellware or should I?

  • Gray Shambler Link

    Lots of empty lots. Are you telling me no developers in the area want this property?

  • Those who want to live there don’t have any money and those who have money don’t want to live there.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Amazon to Fuller Park doesn’t seem likely, but still think the City has good odds because its got the capacity to add space and employees.

  • Guarneri Link


    One of the tragedies, although probably not unique to Chicago, is that some of the grandest homes for the monied crowd were around Hyde Park and the university. Today you don’t stray too far from the campus proper.

    But whether around the notorious Lawndale district or near Sox Park and so on, Dave is right. The rationale for being there is gone. The only gentrification I know of that is working is down SMich Ave, State Street etc to about Soldier Field. That’s a pretty limited area.

  • Since the advent of Google Street View, every once in a while I check in on the neighborhood in St. Louis where I grew up and another neighborhood in St. Louis where my father’s maternal grandfather lived and where my great-uncle and then his widow lived for most of the last century. In our old neighborhood about a third of the lots are empty and in the other neighborhood about half where once both were entirely built up with homes, churches, and small stores. That’s what happens when a city goes from nearly a million people in 1950 to 300,000 today as has been the case with St. Louis.

    The alternative is Detroit where many of the abandoned homes and stores have just been left to fall down.


    The problem is black genetics. There is no humane solution to that other than segregation.

  • I disagree. The rural black homicide rate is about the same as the rural white homicide rate. That suggests an economic and cultural problem and neither economy nor culture are genetic.

    Besides in the U. S. most American black folk are genetically of mixed race—between a third and half white.

  • Gray Shambler Link

    It would seem to be the University that would naturally want to gobble up nearby property, and have Federal research dollars to do so, that’s the way it is here anyway.

  • Guarneri Link


    Go to Google Street View that Dave referenced. Look up the University of Chicago (basically 5500 south) and surrounding areas. You will get it.

  • A good place to start is 5600 S. Woodlawn. That’s basically in the middle of the University of Chicago campus. Go south virtually from there. Quickly there will be one empty lot per block. By the time you reach 6200 S. Woodlawn 3/4s of the lots are empty.

    Better than burned-out shells I suppose but indicative of a community in decline.

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