Friday, July 30, 2010

Useless Uptown Peace Vigil Ends But Violence Will Continue

There was a candlelight anti-violence peace march in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood (a section called Sheridan Park), as reported here earlier. It was the production of Johnny King and his "Commissioned for the Community" group. The event was oh-so-predictable. A crowd of 80 to 100 people gathered at the southwest corner of N. Magnolia and W. Wilson at 7:00 p.m., then moved to the middle of the 4500 block of N. Magnolia. That's where the two young men were shot on Wednesday. A modest police presence was there to monitor the situation; some detectives and a few uniformed officers stood around, out of the way. Politicians present: 46th Ward aldermanic candidates Michael Carroll, James Cappelman, Don Nowotny and Molly Phelan, as well as Adam Robinson, candidate for State Senate in the 7th District (photo right; click images to englarge them). The Critical Mass biker riders, by the way, did not pass through Wilson and Magnolia until 9:15 p.m., well after the vigil ended. It was feared earlier that they would get in the way of the vigil, which was a silly fear inasmuch as the vigil was a long half block off of that intersection. Some of the speakers, including King (photo left), gave the usual speeches. Why is their such hate? they wondered aloud. Why do they shoot each other? they asked collectively. Now is the time to come together and do something about this, they vowed 60 years too late. We have a voice, the group muttered, and we have the ability to make a difference. We must come together. Blah blah blah, talk talk talk, and meanwhile the code of silence in the Black community continues. I see more "Stop Snitching" than Che Guevara tee shirts in Uptown. The shooting is almost exclusively black-on-black violence, but the code of "the Black man's law" keeps many in the neighborhood from helping the police (The Man) from preventing the next black person from being gunned down. Nobody at this vigil had the guts to address this fully. Look, these are nice, well meaning people. It's hard to fault them for their good intentions and their kind spirits. The fact that these are good people, who truly feel the pain of a community that is wrenched by violence in a society that gets number to it every year, just makes it all the more difficult to watch. Otherwise intelligent people who would laugh at the notion of superstition stood around on a sidewalk tonight and essentially appealed to the gods to intervene. I have nothing against prayer, but the real roots of the violence were not addressed. Photo above, left: Molly Phelan Photo above, right: James Cappelman Photo below, left: CFC members get the message out Photo below, right: The vigil on Magnolia. At no time did we hear mention of the morally decaying influence of Hollywood over the decades, nor of the coddling of criminals by politicians and activist judges. At no point in the ritual tonight did anybody rant righteously against lazy parents, a justice system that lets the shooters go more often than not with minimal or no punishment, and at no time did anybody scold the ACLU for making it difficult for police officers to do their jobs. I did not hear anybody say anything about the sick culture of gangsta rap and the encouragement it gives to the animals and savages who so wantonly kill each other and the innocent bystanders who are rude enough to get in the way of their bullets. Photo below, left: Discarded pizza box, empty juice and beer bottles. Photo below, right: This dog's trick was as effective in fighting gang violence as were the tricks performed by the humans at the vigil. What we did see was a repeat of what has happened thousands of times across America in the wake of some tragic and senseless murder. What we will see again, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, is another round of insane violence in Chicago. It might be tonight, tomorrow, or next week, but you can safely bet your mortgage that it will happen. In fact, as the vigil was still in progress, I crossed the street to stand with three CPD officers and a civilian. "Gee," I said sarcastically to them, "I feel safer already knowing that this vigil has stopped all future violence in Uptown." They laughed. "For now," one said, "I give it three days before there's another incident." Another officer said, "I'm betting on two days." Two days, three day, whatever: Somebody will die again. Perhaps there will be another vigil then, too. Perhaps next time we can build a big bonfire on the beach and sacrifice a cow or something. Perhaps State Senator Heather Steans, the Machine Democrat who Adam Robinson is running against, can hold another of her useless public safety meetings. RELATED: At least 10 wounded in separate Chicago shootings, Aug. 2, 2010 Chicago Breaking News Cops ID Suspect in 13-Year-Old's Murder MyFoxChicago 'Scary' growth of gangs in war zones - Chicago Sun-Times Street-Gang Mentality A Mosaic of Remorseless Violence and Relentless Loyalty