Community violence: We are the enemy

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Most of the crime statistics that are reported for the City of Chicago tend to focus on crimes against our young people. They usually point out that both the victims and the perpetrators of violent crime tend to be under 40 years old, many of them in thei

Most of the crime statistics that are reported for the City of Chicago tend to focus on crimes against our young people. They usually point out that both the victims and the perpetrators of violent crime tend to be under 40 years old, many of them in their teens.

Every now and then we hear of a homicide that involves pre-teens, usually because some neighborhood gangster whose bravado does not come with any kind of aim, sprays a whole block with bullets and hits someone innocent, someone who had nothing to do with the gangster’s anger. Sometimes, we get one of those cases like Officer Thomas Wortham IV, who was shot dead near his parents home by people who did not know the value of a life, let alone the value of working for a living.

But what to make of Rosie Morris, 46, of the city’s Calumet Heights community?

We cannot blame youth for Morris’ actions. According to police, Morris allegedly shot her “friend,” Patricia Clark, in the back, repeatedly, because she thought Clark was cheating during a poker game. Morris is charged with first-degree murder and jailed on $1 million bond. Clark, 51, died two days later from her wounds.

There is a lawlessness that has enveloped our neighborhoods, infiltrated our communities, and it has nothing to do with gangs, nothing to do with drugs, nothing to do with youth. When a friendly card game between adult female friends ends with one of them shooting the other in the back, the question is not about crime, or victims or even joblessness (though some would make the crime problem a function of the poor economy).

It is one thing to end a friendship by hanging up the phone, or un-friending on Facebook. It is quite another to end it by firing a bullet into your friend’s back, and then firing a couple more shots into the prone body just to make sure.

If we are killing each other so easily, so callously, we cannot blame the gang bangers, or the gangster rap or poor schools. It is not the lack of recreational activities or absence of jobs.

None of that came into play in Morris’ house in the Southeast Side community.

What we are witnessing is a devolution of our communities that defies pat answers and will not be affected by missives from Jeff Fort. Instead, we have “grown” women, beyond the influence of all the stressors that all the talking heads say bring about the violence in our young people, firing guns and killing each other.

If you do not feel it is wrong to shoot your friend in the back because you think she might be cheating, then how can you decry the violence in the streets?

If you think that an appropriate response to an argument in your house is to go to your closet and get your gun, then what kind of civilization do you inhabit, and what message are you sending to anyone around you?

The violence in our communities is not something “they” are doing. To quote an old cartoon, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”  

Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender.

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