Friday, April 24, 2009

Federal troops to quell urban violence?

I can't believe I missed this column. I normally like Mary Mitchell, but I don't always think to check out her columns anymore. Not sure why, but this column from last month was pretty good.

BTW, I'm not sure if I'm reading this correctly, but I see on her blog that she's suffering from cancer and was successfully treated for that. That's great news and I expect nothing less than to be able to read her columns for the foreseeable future.

Anyway back to her column:
Obviously, President Obama can't read the tons of mail he receives. But there's one letter floating around the White House that I hope he reads.

That letter is from Edward G. Gardner, a prominent Chicago businessman and the founder of Black on Black Love, the city's pioneering anti-violence campaign.

Gardner is asking Obama to send federal troops to urban areas that are now under siege by domestic terrorists fighting gang wars.

Our children are dying in the streets.

Yet so far more attention has been paid to the violence in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Not sure how I feel about that. It almost sounds like an unfortunate form of giving up. Perhaps one should find themselves in the mind of someone who wants this. Who would want their streets militarized only for the purposes of safety.

Now it's not that I don't understand what Mr. Gardner, a prominent businessman who in the past owned Soft Sheen and House of Kicks, is trying to do. We have to do something about the violence in our streets. How do we keep our young men safe and out of trouble? Indeed how do we keep them from killing each other?

At The Sixth Ward, a comment was posted there last month about placing 79th Street under martial law. I wasn't sure that was actually possible and would be bothered if it was done. I want safe streets, but I'm not sure bringing in some military is the answer.

Let's see some of Ed Gardner's letter:
"We realize that you are a strong proponent of 'bottom up' solutions that start within the community. Yet, the community-based approaches will only work when it is made evident that the lives of our youth are a national priority. That understanding will only come about with the presence of federal troops, stationed on the streets of America for the purpose of keeping our young people safe.

"Over the past couple of decades, Black on Black Love has held an event called 'No Crime Day.' Its purpose was to show that if we could have a day without crime, we could have a week without crime, and eventually crime and violence within our cities would permanently cease. Our hope is that this message will continue to live and inspire our communities. But we can't do this alone. Without your support this becomes one more futile effort, another ant-sized solution in the face of an elephant called 'gun violence.' In this war zone in which we live, where children are afraid to walk across the street, our efforts will only have meaning if they are supported by the federal government, and that support can most effectively be demonstrated through the deployment of federal troops to the streets of America."
"We have committed troops to Iraq and Afghanistan to protect their children. So it only makes sense that since ten times as many minorities are being killed in the streets of America, America needs to commit troops to protect the children who are being killed right here."
I think that comparing the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan is like comparing apples & oranges. Although it may be true that our forces may well be fighting against people who are as young as those who are dying in the streets of Chicago.

Well something has to be done for sure. Last summer I believe our then governor who was recently ousted floated a plan to bring in the state police to supplement the city police. Instead of federal troops or even the national guard I would rather that. For now, however, the only reason our neighborhoods should ever recieve federal troops is for there to be a disturbance, disaster, or a direct attack on the nation.

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