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Latest Community Violence In Edgewater, Mayor Speaks Out

PolicetapeLast weekend many families celebrated Easter, the final days of Passover, or enjoyed the last few days of their spring break. But others in the city of Chicago experienced great loss because of violent episodes in several neighborhoods, including our very own Edgewater. This last weekend was a violent one, with 9 people killed and 36 wounded between Friday evening and Sunday evening. Victims ranged from an 11-year-old-girl to a 46-year-old man. Shootings varied from a social media dispute, a homicide/suicide between husband and wife police officers, and multiple gang related shootings. In Edgewater, a 46 year-old man was shot on Saturday on the 1700 Block of West Rosehill Drive around 11:30 a.m. and taken to the hospital in critical condition. Other neighborhoods that experienced violence and shootings were Park Manor, Little Village, Pilsen, Longwood Manor, Avalon Park, Hermosa, Englewood, and Gresham. Regardless of what neighborhood you live in, we should all be alarmed about this level of violence.

There are so many questions about how and why such a high level of violence could happen over the course of one weekend in our city. Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke at an Edgewater school to announce more international baccalaureate programs on Monday, April 21. Emanuel said, “Every child deserves a childhood, regardless of where they live. But to do that, our city and community, the neighborhoods that make up this city, cannot live by a code of silence. They have to live by a moral code.” He commented about the warmer weather not being an acceptable excuse for increasing violence, as the urban legend would suggest. Instead he claimed that there are many factors that impact whether or not violence takes place, and that we need to do more. I would argue that many people in this city live and die by a moral code, and that perhaps the ‘code of silence’ he is referring to, is due to something else.

The tendency has typically been to fund new initiatives, create more after-school programs, add more police to the streets, talk about the need to increase jobs, and create partnerships with community resources to reduce the amount of crime. Is that enough? Is that working? What can members of the neighborhood do? Where can we be active participants in creating peace in our own neighborhoods, as well as neighborhoods that may be on the other side of the city? We cannot simply blame the Chicago police department, the lack of jobs and opportunities in vulnerable neighborhoods, or the overwhelming presence of gangs. Air conditioners by 2019 in every Chicago Public school won’t fix the violence and neither will a new Federal Violent Crimes section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We cannot expect the bureaucracy at the top to be able to fix the challenges we see on our very own blocks every day. Every act of violence in our neighborhood or across the city should be acknowledged and acted upon so that we do not continue to grow the death toll with each passing weekend.

Edgewater’s Positive Loitering walks are a great example of community members taking a stand against the violence. However ‘running out the violence’ does not leave much room for community members on both sides of the violence to engage with one another to come to a peaceful existence. Instead of blaming others, or pointing the finger, we should work to create relationships with one another in hopes of maintaining a peaceful community where everyone feels at home and valued.

The new CNN television series “Chicagoland” paints our city as a crime ridden, segregated city of the rich and the poor, the black and the white, neighborhoods close in proximity but feeling as if they are worlds apart.  It portrays our hometown as one that is run only by the Mayor, the police and the gangs. That is not the city I know. Chicago is so much more than how we are depicted from outsiders or the media. We are a city of culturally rich neighborhoods; small world-class theaters; winter weathered warriors; passionate public school teachers; locally owned restaurants; thriving artists; strong willed unions; blue-collar workers; activists for every cause; world class museums and institutions; colleges and universities for every type of student; nonprofit devotees; inspiring and empowered youth; cronies old and new; and the birthplace for progressive movements that paved the way for the nation. We must be proactive and assure that we define ourselves in the way we experience our community and not limit ourselves to the violent narrative that haunts us.


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