By John Kass
Every Monday in the city of anarchy, on what Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot once called “Accountability Mondays” without irony, the media tallies the number of the weekend murdered dead and the wounded.
And the Democrat politicians point fingers at each other.
More than 70 people were shot this past weekend, with 12 dead. Over the July 4 weekend, more than 100 people were shot, among them more than a dozen children, and 19 were killed. And so on, weekend after weekend, weekday after weekday.
Violence, the fear of violence and its after-effects are the top issues in Chicago.
More than 2,000 people have been shot this year, more than a 60 percent increase compared to 2019. The crime website heyjackass.com, puts the number at 2,064 shot and wounded so far, reporting that 428 have been shot and killed.
“Another bloody weekend,” tweeted my friend Tom Bevan, co-founder of Real Clear Politics “Calling the city Chiraq is now an insult to Iraq.”
He did provide the headline to this column. But let’s understand why it is an insult to Iraq. Chicago’s crime statistics, as bad as they are, don’t tell the full story. There were 970 murders in 1974—a record year for homicides—but Chicago’s population then was more than 3 million and half the city was considered middle class.
In the nearly 50 years since then, Chicago has continued to shrink and decay—beset by woefully inept governance and poisonous policies that ground down all but the most connected of the politically connected.
Hundreds of thousands have left town since then. Chicago’s middle class is all but gone. The working classes of all races and ethnicities, which gave this city its defining character for toughness and endurance, have been decimated. Many make plans to leave. Many more are just stuck.
So, what we’re witnessing in Chicago is not simply a return to some abstract high-crime statistic which could be debated ad nauseum by the sophists and excuse makers.
We’re seeing something else: the symptoms of death. And of civic anarchy, a breakdown and fragmentation, and literal chaos at the most fundamental levels of a once-great city, the most American of all American cities.
The Democratic elite which has controlled this town and state for almost 100 years—with support of eager Republican handmaidens in what I’ve long called The Combine–don’t have a clue on how to fix it. And they most likely wouldn’t be able to recognize a solution if it slapped them in the face.
Instead, they keep following the same policies year after year, indulging themselves in the rhetoric of race, all the while clinging to an ideological prism that offers them comfort and plaudits from the national party but blinds them to the realities on the ground.
In this they are very much like the tinkerers and architects of American foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq, which for decades was sustained by fantasy. And that fantasy fed death and ruin to American soldiers and to the Afghan and Iraqi peoples.
Wedded to their ideology and their partisanship, they don’t dare to question Democratic policies that have that have led Chicago and much of urban America to decay and despair.
What Democratic Party policies do Democrats fear to question?
The rise of the welfare state for one. It bought Democratic votes, but it also did so much to break the family structure in many of the most vulnerable, and now increasingly violent
And sub-standard government (public) schools dominated by the leftist bosses of teachers’ unions that routinely betray working class, low-income and minority families. Government schools don’t serve the children, but they serve Democratic Party power interests, proving well-paying union jobs, administrative patronage to please Democratic state legislators, and enriching politically connected vendors who know what to do with campaign checks.
This in part is the root of Chicago’s political anarchy. But anarchy isn’t just confined to Chicago’s dysfunctional politics.
Consider the sons (and daughters) of anarchy, the tens of thousands—some say more than 100,000– street gang members of Chicago.
What many don’t understand are the effects of anarchy on the violent street gangs themselves. Historically, the gangs have been part of the city’s Democrat Party power structure, and for decades have provided street muscle to win local elections.
Their existence has long been rationalized by radical sociologists of the left claiming that the gangs became alternative families, since the real families were broken in good part by government.
But Chicago’s street gangs, like Chicago’s politics, have also broken down. The gangs, long accustomed to using violence to maintain control, are suffering from Chicago’s anarchy.
Gang culture, like the old Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples, once imposed strict discipline on their members. But even that culture has fractured completely.
The old gangs have been replaced by loose cliques–still vicious, still murderous–cliques as old gang affiliations and structures become meaningless.
And the old gangsters released from prison are themselves targeted and murdered. They’re cut down by the young, who see little profit or reason in taking orders and bowing to old school ways.
“You’ve got some guys that might be Vice Lords, but they don’t honor the Vice Lord Nation—they’re renegades,” Benneth Lee, who spent 15 years in prison, told WTTW’s Paul Caine. “You might see a group of guys on one block, there might be five Vice Lords, two Disciples and one Stone and they’re getting money together hustling, and that’s how they’re moving now.”
Years ago, the much-mythologized Chicago Outfit, known to outsiders as “the mob,” imposed structure on all crime, including street gangs. Chicago mayors called on the Outfit when street gang violence became politically unbearable.
But the Outfit was largely broken by federal prosecutions, most notably in Operation Family Secrets.
The feds also took down the leaders of the notorious street gangs, including Larry Hoover, the co-founder of the Gangster Disciple nation, with chapters across the Midwest. Hoover is now 70, serving a 200-year sentence. Some in media carried his water, trying to make him a sympathetic figure but a federal judge recently denied him an early release sentencing break.
The success of federal prosecutors in taking down gang kingpins of all ethnicities was hailed as a victory for law and order. But it ignored the entirely predictable chaos and violence to follow as a result of internecine power struggles among criminals.
Chicago wasn’t ready. Any not-woke historian could have told us that.
A common perception is that Chicago’s violence is largely contained to the roughest South and West Side neighborhoods. But with increasing frequency, the violence spills out, with carjackings, robbery sprees, shootings and murder on the increase in affluent downtown and Near North neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are still struggling to emerge from the destruction and looting from last year’s George Floyd riots, that were pushed by Marxist organizations seeking to make their own contributions to anarchy.
According to the crime website CWB Chicago, police believe that a 52-year-old resident of the pricey Presidential Towers high rise development was shot during a robber the other evening, when the robbers were themselves fired upon by gang rivals:
“As he gave the men his wallet, a four-door sedan pulled up to the corner of Jefferson and Madison. The gunmen emerged from the car and began shooting toward the robbers and the victim. One of the robbers returned fire. At least 20 rounds were fired during the melee, according to a CPD report. One bullet struck the victim in his lower back, leaving him in serious condition.”
According to reports, the victim, Raymond Soni, was pronounced dead at 7:25am on Wednesday.
The drama of Chicago violence is parceled out in episodes, of politicians talking and mothers weeping. It’s like those TV crime procedurals, in which haggard cops and haggard mayors compete to make the big speech at the conclusion that reaffirms the liberal point of view.
The dead aren’t listening. And those planning the next gang hit don’t much care about the big speech. Neither do the clerks in the county morgue processing the victims.
So, the weakened Lightfoot unleashes her top cop, Police Supt. David Brown, to do the talking, and blame judges and prosecutors for releasing violent arrestees back out on the streets, through low bail and a porous electronic home monitoring system.
“What we can do different is challenge the courts to render Chicago safe by holding violent offenders in jail longer, not releasing murderers back into our communities,” Brown said.
“Ask the courts: why are you releasing violent people, dangerous people that Chicago police officers arrest and charge, back into these communities to create this environment of lawlessness that we’re seeing here.”
Meanwhile, the judges and the prosecutors are blamed, they in turn blame the cops, as do the hard-left progressives in the Chicago City council. And now, journalists on what are called “social justice” beats push back too, on behalf of lenient social justice Chief Judge Tim Evans and the catch-and-release prosecutor, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx—first elected with campaign help by radical leftist billionaire George Soros.
I think it is wrong to throw non-violent arrestees in jail and bury them until trial. Bond should be available to all.
But repeat violent offenders arrested for violent acts—many of them gang members—should not be let out on electronic monitoring or let out into the streets with no or low bail.
In a column in 2019, I reported that of more than 2,000 alleged criminals awaiting trial on home monitoring, many had been charged with violent crimes:
233 had been charged with aggravated battery; 198 with unlawful use of weapon by a felon; 108 with being an armed habitual criminal; 109 with sexual assault; 21 with kidnapping; and 109 with murder or attempted murder.
And that CWB website keeps reporting on dozens after dozens of violent actors who commit violent crime while out on low bond or the electronic ankle bracelet.
Since then, the George Floyd riots and accompanying calls to defund police in almost every major Democratic-controlled city have put police on the defensive.
In Chicago, the cops can’t even chase them on foot.
And anarchy grows, strangling a wonderful city like a weed.
(Copyright 2021 John Kass)