CHICAGO, February 8, 2013 — It will be a cold, damp, winter day in Chicago. The ground at the cemetery will be crusted with snow. Cold winds and flurries will blow across the open land. A young girl will be buried. First Lady Michelle Obama will be attending the services.
Politicians and the media will be tripping all over themselves to attend the funeral. Ever since 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and murdered on the streets of Chicago, politicians and the media have been flapping their soup coolers over something called gun violence – whatever that is.
Hadiya Pendleton was an honor student, made a video against gang violence, and performed at the inaugural of President Obama. She was a young woman with a bright future. Ms. Pendleton was gunned down in cold blood by the urban vermin and pestilence infesting Chicago, street gangs and drug dealers. One of those creatures ended her life.
All the posturing, primping and alligator tears of cowardly politicians, poverty pimp preachers, and so-called journalists will do nothing to bring back Ms. Pendleton, and nothing to save other young men and women like her. More kids will die. Hadiya Pendleton will be a symbol of political cowardice and failure.
Politicians and the media killed Hadiya Pendleton, just as they’ve killed so many other kids on Chicago’s streets. Their weapon of choice is cowardice – pure, unadulterated cowardice.
Chicago’s politicians make good speeches. They rise up in righteous anger and scatter well-crafted oratory and platitudes, but in the end, they neither act nor do they incite action. They refuse to recogize and go after the real cause of murder and mayhem in urban America: gangs and drug dealers. The media join them in their refusal. Together they let the blood of Chicago’s youth run in the streets.
Over the past two decades, street gangs and drug dealers have grown unchecked in size and power. A culture of violence has infected areas of Chicago due to this unchecked growth. Life is meaningless to these gangs; it has no value. Going to prison is just a rite of passage to the thugs who roam the streets looking to deal death.
There is no justice for children like Hadiya Pendleton. In a few days she will be yesterday’s news. Life will go on until the next kid gets killed. There will be more deaths. You can bet on that.
It is time citizens, politicians, and media started acting like adults. The problem isn’t “assault rifles” and “high-capacity magazines.” This isn’t a complex academic problem requiring the brightest minds a dozen well-funded studies can buy. This is a simple problem that only becomes hard when you care more about politics than human life, when the only rear-end you want to cover is your own. It will only be solved with real action, not speeches and RFPs from granting agencies.
Man up, stop snivelling over the sesitivities you might hurt, and take a cold, hard look at who’s killing and who’s dying. It is time to face facts. Hard facts.
This is not gun violence. It is human violence. It is gang and drug dealer violence. It is criminal violence. The only way to protect our children is to destroy the gangs and drug organizations. You’re worried about racial sensitivities and the composition of the gangs? Take a good long look at the face of Hadiya Pendleton lifeless on the coroner’s slab, then look at the faces of the other dead children. Then see if you can stomach mewling about race.
Black and Hispanic gangs and drug dealers deal out most of the violence in Chicago. The Chicago Crime Commission reports at least 68,000 gang members in Chicago, and if we add in the hangers-on, perhaps 100,000 Chicagoans identify with a gang. Due to the nature of the drug business and the role of gangs in the drug trade, it is hard to determine how many drug dealers there are, but the gangs and drug cartels are well-organized.
Law enforcement knows who the leadership is. It is time to do to the gangs and drug dealers what was done to the organized crime “families.” Work with the media and expose the vermin. Put faces to the leadership. Put them on the front pages and nightly news. Make it impossible for them to turn around without bumping into a police officer, federal agent, or reporter. Examine every license application, every tax return, every bank account with a microscope, and make their lives a legal misery. Do the same to anyone who does business with them, socializes with them, or associates with them in any way.
If you can’t arrest them, make them pariahs.
That is how traditional organized crime was dismantled and forced underground. The Chicago Outfit is a mere shadow of what it used to be.
Politicians, who are responsible for law enforcement, and the media have to stop being afraid of being labeled racist, phobic, or any other ridiculous label foisted by propagandists. It is just a meaningless accusation. They have to cease fearing protests or boycotts that really accomplish nothing. They need to ignore all the enablers who toss around accusations like kids pitching pennies. It is not racist or phobic to attack criminals or criminal organizations.
If the death of children is to have any meaning for the living the only path is to avenge those deaths through tough unrelenting measures until the gangs and drug dealers are hiding in the woodwork like the cockroaches and rodents they really are.
If we do not demand the cowards in the media and politics act than we are just as guilty as they are of murdering children.
Peter V. Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance journalist and photojournalist, cook, and raconteur. He likes to be the irreverent sharp stick that pokes, prods, and annoys. His opinions are his and his alone. Mr. Bella is a member of the National Press Photographers Association, Online News Association, Chicago Headline Club, and the Society for Professional Journalists.
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