Cleaning up the blood

photo by Carlos Javier Ortiz

photo by Carlos Javier Ortiz

The blood had gushed everywhere, so the paramedic had his hands full cleaning up the ambulance.

And he was in a hurry because he said he might have busy night on the streets. Another shooting victim. Another night like the rest.

What’s driving the violence, I wondered.

It’s guns and business on the streets – drug business, he replied matter-of -factly, as he kept scrubbing.

But he had another thought. Now he stopped and looked up. And he spoke with more fire in his voice.

There are communities out there, he said. where there’s nothing. No businesses. No work. Nothing.

His words hung with me as I drove for the next few days through the South Side. Passed empty lots and boarded up stories and buildings and houses marked with a large red X. They are marks of decay, warnings to firefighters and others that these places are fragile and dangerous to enter.

A red X here and there, one block after another and another.

I thought about the signs when reading this column by Dawn Turner Trice in the Chicago Tribune. She wrote:

Many of our most violent neighborhoods already have social service agencies and churches and residents who are working hard to change things. But often their efforts amount to putting out fires.

“What we need is something big, well-funded and sustainable. Residents aren’t looking for a handout. They want what each of us wants — neighborhoods that are safe, secure and productive.”

“We try to improve conditions in San Pedro Sula and other cities around the world as humanitarian gestures and because we believe it’s in our national interest to do so.

“The same is true for solving the problems on Chicago’s streets.”

So, where’s this effort going to come from and how and when?

Salim Muwakkil’s column also in the Tribune brought me back to the streets with the red signs and my question about who is going to fix the streets where violence lurks.

He wrote:

“In 2014, Chicago is more than a city name; it’s a metaphor for urban perplexity. The word simultaneously evokes a glittering urban sky-scrape of festive commercialism and a fetid, murderous underbelly.

More than a tale of two cities, those contradictory images reflect a perplexing refusal to recognize the connection of poverty to community dysfunction.

“Chronic poverty is criminogenic; the links are thick and reinforced by rigorous scholarship. In Chicago’s communities, rates of violent crime correlate to poverty rates in ways that make that point irrefutable. There is little dispute that if violence prevention is the goal, reducing poverty is the most effective tactic.

“But it’s a tactic that would require enormous resources that we (Chicago, Illinois and the feds) claim we don’t have. And even were the resources available (which they are, re: war, bailouts, bond sales, etc), it’s unlikely that most Chicagoans would be willing to expend them on compensatory programs for black communities.”,0,4948431.story

Read his solution.

And while we are talking about this, let me ask you:

What’s the solution?

digame -talk to me.





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