A cry for troops or just crying wolf?

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I used to watch the sunrise while perched on a metal bin at Chicago and Lavergne avenues. Empty alcohol bottles littered the sidewalks, huge white birds picked away at any leftover food lying in the streets, and an occasional wino or prostitute passed through. I sat there as cars whizzed by and the sun peaked over the skyline of downtown Chicago. For a few moments, there was hope in the midst of a brand new day.

The future seems to grow dim with each new generation.

Black rage replaces the black pride of the 1960s. Black and Latino youth grow more and more careless, unafraid of the consequences for their actions. The murder rate is steady, and many elected officials from outside of the community place blame while offering theoretical solutions.

So, at first notice of State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (D-8th district) and Rep. John Fritchey’s (D-11th district) call for the National Guard to assist the police, I was livid. The 8th district includes Austin, Oak Park, Forest Park, North Riverside, Proviso Township and Berwyn. I only thought about the negative consequences and repercussions to declaring martial law. My sister and I considered several scenarios.

We discussed the possibility of a complete ceasefire between the gangs where the troops become the focus of fury. What if the troops mistakenly shoot an unarmed man or child? We went so far as to ponder the mental ramifications stemming from these troops being on domestic soil, many of them joining the military to escape the nightmares of the same ghetto they would be deployed to combat. I wanted to compose an open letter deploring this appeal to Gov. Quinn, but on further review, I digressed.

Only a small percentage of people who make it out of the ghetto of Austin return to do courageous things.

I don’t know him, but I pass by his office almost everyday. State Rep. Ford’s office sits at Chicago and Leclaire Avenues, the same corner where he once lived and one block away from my morning sunrises. I’ll spare you the bio, but he is no stranger to poverty and hard work. He remains in constant battle over various legislation that benefit Austin residents. He is an entrepreneur, his job fairs draw hundreds, he continues to advocate for a new Austin High School and he runs on the platform of social justice.

The call for troops may not have been the most agreeable speech in dealing with the violence in Chicago streets, but ears are listening and other elected officials are talking. A national spotlight once again shines on this neighborhood. The focus of another bloody Chicago summer remains among the top priorities on agendas.

Today, I managed to once again see the sunrise on an Austin corner and I still felt the same hope. I believe State Rep. Ford feels it also. We all are hoping for a new day.


2 thoughts on “A cry for troops or just crying wolf?

  1. I am a community resident/leader of the Austin Area and employed at Ford Desired Real Estate. Mayor Daley does not care about Black lives being lost in his city. Therefore he is unwilling to protect black residents. Chicago is not at war with violence instead he allows it to happen while Weiss is allowed to use the loser excuse of anti-snitching as a basis of not being able to solve crimes and enable the news media to further perpetuate the lie that he uses.
    Though every morning the downtown area is well protected for suburbanites employees to commute into the city as they walk on the concrete pavement that my tax money paid for while they bring their families into the city on the weekend to enjoy the parks and festivals that was again funded by my tax money. My neighborhood is impoverished and swarmed with drug infestation vividly being sold on every other corner because our mayor, alderman and police chief pretend that there is nothing they can do.
    The police have lost respect from residents in part due to their own reckless behavior which would explain why gunmen felt so free to shoot in the immediate vicinity of police officers. If a gunman would shoot in the presence of the police then a policing body higher than CPD should be deplored into our city. There would be a definite sense of peace if the National Guards were deplored to our community. And if a resident of the Austin community must stand guard within his own community then he/she would be a positive role model for the youths as opposed to the man standing on the corner selling dime bags of crack, heroin and cocaine.

  2. Shanika,

    I share in your frustration about the political machine in Chicago. The “anti-snitching” propaganda was long installed before Jody Weis was even an FBI agent. Gangs have long lived by the code of silence and urged its onlookers to do the same. It does shock me that the police officers who patrol their beat actually know the drug dealers, yet allow them to return to the same corner with relative ease after prison tenures and jail stints.

    I, too, am upset at the fact that Austin residents are not provided the same luxuries of Lincoln Square, Lakeview, Wicker and Lincoln Park neighborhoods and Downtown areas. Their street festivals draw these communities extra income and provide temporary employment to its residents. Access to some even of these initiatives would lessen the disparity of our residents. Some of them would be able to see a glimmer of hope and not have to trade dreams for jail cells.

    But I do think that you have to be careful when asking for the deploring of national troops onto a city that has already thrown up their hands to a group of people that were not equipped to run the race with others in the first place. And how do you see the National Guard as role models? As admirable as their jobs are, they also serve and protect a system that has long exploited the weak. The problem boils down to race and economics. And I’ll just leave it there. But I am interested in furthering this discussion.

    Thank you for your input. If there is anything else of concern or ideas that you have, feel free to e-mail me: austintalks.org@gmail.com.

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