To Suzanne Ontiveros, in wake of her Saturday S-T column, “Why can’t we keep Chicago kids safe?” I wrote:
I put this on my Chicago Newspapers blog the other day about Englewood:
. . . it's quite interesting that in the wake of recent fatal South Side shootings, there's no outcry (screaming headlines) about (a) gun control -- though "delusional" Mayordaley II apparently made some customary noises about it -- and (b) root causes of gang criminality. Sun-Times did have "Instant Messages" emailed from readers that touched on the former but also had the two items that in this blog's opinion matter most in these matters: 1. Decriminalization of recreational drug use and 2. draconian law enforcement.
The former would require a change of heart mostly of white libs, the latter of them and the affected, afflicted community, which would have to permit cops to get tough. Since this would mean jailing neighbors' sons, among other things (deport gang-bangers, said one letter writer!) , I bet on decriminalization happening before any unleashing of cops. Oh, another -- yes, better -- idea was for parents etc. to take back the sidewalks by standing on the corners watching all the drug customers drive by. Is this affected, afflicted community up to such unanimity? Not so far.
In my opinion, a Rudy Guiliani is what's needed among political leaders -- he made Times Square usable and NYC habitable -- and a Monsignor Robert Fox among religious -- he helped Harlem-ites take back their streets in the 60s. This is a law enforcement problem, Sue, but quiet, steady community pressure is part of it. What think?
Here I add:
In support of the Guiliani-NYC approach, consider this from City Journal, part of an article about how NY police have gone to other cities and made a big difference in crime reduction:
[Dean] Esserman [former Brooklyn assistant district attorney] quickly introduced New York–style police tactics [in Providence RI], including an aggressive task force (working with federal prosecutors) that removed weapons from the streets in record numbers and, even more important, a Compstat (computerized statistics) management-accountability system that has focused the whole department’s attention on crime reduction and held commanders responsible for achieving it. Serious crime has fallen dramatically—13 percent in 2003 and 12 percent in 2004—and police morale has soared. Esserman has replaced most of the [jailed ex-mayor] Cianci-era commanders with his own trusted people.And he’s improved relations with minorities, in part by opening new police substations in minority neighborhoods.Before the 1990s, the belief held in both policing and political circles that crime resulted from factors beyond anyone’s control, and that police could do little to influence crime rates. Gotham’s crime turnaround—which continues under current commissioner Ray Kelly—shattered that myth. The New York–bred police chiefs at work in other U.S. cities continue to prove that, properly led, cops can cut crime.
As for Msgr. Fox, his crowning achievement occurred in spite of his middle-class-assumptions liberal mentality as identified and criticized by Christopher Shannon at an on-line magazine, “The New Pantagruel”:
Fox’s work with Puerto Ricans did have one redeeming moment worthy of [education reformer Ivan] Illich’s original vision. In 1967, a riot broke out in Spanish Harlem following a police shooting of an unarmed Puerto Rican man. As night fell, Mayor John Lindsay pleaded with people to stay off the streets. Reasoning that such a course of action would only leave the streets open to the most violent in the community, Fox instead organized a night-time peace procession in which he led Puerto Rican Catholics in the recitation of the rosary. The presence of the rosary procession was enough to keep the peace through the night and restore order to the community. The lesson, of course, is that Fox finally succeeded in inspiring action for social justice only after appealing to an indigenous Puerto Rican—and Catholic—tradition not explicitly related to modern conceptions of “social justice.”