Monday, April 26, 2010

Call in the National Guard to fight street and drug gang violence in Chicago

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Why I like Fritchey’s plan to call in the National Guard
By Ray Hanania

Street gang and drug gang related violence is out of control in Chicago. Something needs to be done.

The Chicago Police are overworked, and oftentimes because of political agitation and bad publicity – the CPD needs to do a better job of PR but they don’t – the neighborhoods where the crime is committed do not cooperate.

Although the murder rates have dropped in recent years from the highs of what they were a decade ago – as many as 660 murders in one year, maybe a third now – Chicago is still losing great young minds to needless violence by teenagers who are lost and career criminals who rule the streets and communities.

Most of the street gang violence is concentrated in about 9 percent of the city’s neighborhoods, according to published reports. That means we know where most of the violence takes place. The question for Police Supt. Jodi Weis, a good person with an impossible job, is why? Why can’t we crack down on these criminals.

State Representatives John Fritchey of the North Side and LaShawn Ford of the West Side have proposed this past week that the Illinois National Guard be called in to help patrol these neighborhoods.

That’s a great idea. I’ll tell you why. Sometimes the problem is perception. And the perception today is the Chicago Police can’t do the job themselves in curbing the violence in this most difficult of neighborhoods.

Young people are dying, usually innocent bystanders. The Fritchey and Ford proposal does several things to change those perceptions and, more importantly, make a difference:

First, bringing in the National Guard reinforces the confidence of the public in the neighborhoods, to give them more strength to stand up and fight back. That’s been a big problem. Many living in this crime infested neighborhoods rightly fear speaking out. They need support.

Second, the idea sends out a strong message to the street gangs there’s going to be zero tolerance for street gang and drug related violence and people with guns.

Why don’t we start treating street gang and drug gang members who carry weapons the same way we treat terrorists. Put them in camps and deny them their rights. Round them up and punish them. Force them to change their lives by forcing them to live in tough and brutal conditions.

Maybe there are some who can be saved if we can take them off the streets.

Third, and most importantly, it shows the world and especially the neighborhoods where these murders have taken place that someone cares. Maybe this will encourage more parents and homeowners in these crime infested areas to feel confidence that speaking out will make a difference, not result in retribution against them by the drug and street gang thugs.

Finally, calling out the Illinois National Guard to step in and help also sends a message to those people who think that street gang and drug gang are the problems of other neighborhoods. They are not. The Fritchey and Ford proposal will help makes those people living in more comfortable neighborhoods and the suburbs more aware of the problem and maybe they will start to think about ways we can help.

It won’t be easy sending in the National Guard. There are going to be incidents we might not like.

But the reality is if we don’t do something, the streets of Chicago will continue to be ruled by street gang and drug gang thugs and killers who have so little respect for human life that innocent little children are dying every week.

[Note: John Fritchey joins Radio Chicagoland this morning (Monday April 26, 2010) at 9 am to discuss his proposal. Listen to WJJG 1530 AM Radio or live on the internet at  And call in at 708-493-1530 if you have an idea, too.]

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