Mayor Rahm Emanuel Outlined New Anti-violence, Anti-crime plan
by Kai EL’ Zabar
After much participation, Thursday evening Mayor Emanuel delivered one of the most important speeches of his life as the plan—his vision for fighting crime in the nation’s third-largest city that includes new efforts as a comprehensive three step programmatic process: Enforcement, Investment and Prevention. This comes at a time when his popularity is at an all-time low of 25%.
The steps feature, step one: legislation, increased police force and police reforms, Step two: Education, job opportunities to help dignity and self-respect, Step 3: to provide universal mentoring, to provide our youth an alternative to gangs, crime and violence.
The mayor began by thanking the community for coming out and moved right into the plan. He said, “Today I want to have a conversation with the people of Chicago about and issue that weighs heavily on all of us. Gun violence in Chicago is unacceptable. The violence is tearing apart the city. It is pulling us apart when our city needs us to come together.” From there he provided a list of violent incidents involving guns resulting in the fatality of some of the most memorable, jogging our memory of the pain we suffered and if not, should.
“A 6-year old girl playing on her porch with her family is shot, when a son of a police officer home from college on his summer break is murdered sitting on a front stoop, or an anti-violence activist is gunned down while playing video games at his friends house or an army veteran who served his country is a mentor at the At Risk Youth at the YMCA is killed in his car on his way home, our hearts are torn. This is not the Chicago we know or love.”
It wasn’t just what he said, rather the manner in which he said it, the cadence of his voice and the delivery of the words. He emoted authenticity throughout the speech expressing more uncontrollably when he spoke, especially of a police officer who tragically lost his son to gun violence, found the strength to put his uniform back on and return to work to serve, protect and fight violence and defend the city with integrity and dignity. Emanuel reminded us that police are not bad. The few bad seeds taint the many who are good because the bad stand out, but the good that is done daily is taken for granted and goes under the radar.
The grievances between the community and the police have been festering a long time.
He mentioned camel that broke the straw. ‘The shooting of LaQuan McDonald brought it to a breaking point,’ he said.
The Mayor’s speech was part pep talk, part inspiration, part reminder informing us of what our responsibility is as residents of Chicago. He reminded us of our greatness and why Chicago is the city that works. He said, “Gun violence is not beyond our ability to change.
“We can do it with manpower, technology, and training but not without our commitment to make a difference, it will take everyone’s involvement.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel detailed his three-step program breaking each step down and noting the importance of each. He informed the audience that Step one will require more trained officers on the streets, and that his budget contains the first installment of a two-year plan to hire 500 beat officers, 100 additional field officers, and sergeants. The next year more detectives will be added and he pointed out that officers will start to reflect the communities that make up the communities they protect. He promised that the city will invest in new technology, in addition to tasers and body cams, cameras will be installed in the dense crime areas. He said that by 2017 every officer will have a body cam. The city will push reform in how police respond to the mentally ill and promised a more expedient release of videos from the police department. Finally, improved ‘Enforcement means,’ Emanuel said, “We will per-fect our relationship with our federal partners. All this will be implemented to establish a new culture of accountability. We are fully committed to adopting a community board (police watch dog).”
The Mayor said, “We have to be frank and honest with ourselves, we all know that adopting change is hard, especially when the change is significant change. That’s what our police officers are going through right now.”
The Mayor reiterated that fighting the crime requires a partnership between the officer and the community. “On the job,” the Mayor pointed out, “They are being asked to go through serious perils facing guns on the streets, they put their lives on the line every day, none of us can appreciate or comprehend. We ask you, the public, to support them.”
He continued, “When I talk to people they don’t hate the police, they want fewer gangs more police in the community on the street that they can respect because they respect them. Respect has to come from both sides.”
“There can be no permission slip for those who disrespect officers in the line of duty. There must be zero tolerance for taunting of police who are attempting to solve a crime. Nor will police who dismiss a resident who has been recently robbed and turned to them for help be turned away be accepted,” said the Mayor, “Change has to happen on both sides.”
He asked all Chicagoans to join in a comprehensive plan to end gun violence.
The mayor also addressed legislation that has to be passed to assure that repeated offenders of gun violence be properly sentenced and that gun seller laws be changed—new licensing laws so that they are held accountable for who they sell guns to. He spoke of lessening the sentences for minor offenses that do not involve violence like the possession of marijuana on one’s person.
He spoke emphatically about not giving up on the young people and the importance of making sure they are adequately trained so that they can find adequate employment to help restore their the self-dignity and self-respect, to know that they count, and have the possibility of a future. He pointed out that on Wednesday 2,000 kids got that at a job fair held at Malcolm X College. Mayor Rham Emanuel spoke of the 31,000 kids that participated in the city’s summer and after-school work program. Others have been hired with the help of Starbucks CEO’s 100,000 initiative.
He shared the plan to build more opportunities for our communities, and the millions in funds needed to rebuild commerce in the communities (South Side of Chicago) working community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood.
And finally, he addressed prevention first-hand by providing mentoring, not just one year but every year, to Chicago youth. He suggested that it’s important to recognize that most of the crime committed is being done by gang affiliation, as are those they often kill. Others are innocent bystanders.
The Mayor then began to break it down, “They have no alternatives. They join gangs for inclusion, protection, money and to matter..” He said, “We must change our norms where prison is where we send boys to become men. We have to do better. We have to understand where the problems begin. Most gang members are high school drop-outs, no skills, no jobs and see no future for themselves, these are the boys that become gang-bangers.”
When I travel this city and I look in the eyes of these young men, the hope, the vitality, I see the promise of life absence in their eyes because it’s been stolen from them. We can not afford to lose any more of our sons to Vice Lords, Gangster Disciple,or Latin Kings.
“We have to stop them from giving up on their future by turning to gangs for praise, turn to lives of crime for hope, because Gangs are willing to be that role model.”
“Chicago we have a choice. We have to make certain that My Brothers Keeper is the mentor to young men instead of the Vice Lords, that 100 Black Men is a role model or it’s the Gangster Disciples, either we train men or the Latin Kings become their family. We have to provide instead of they need a moral compass to help them. Our kids are yearning for direction a moral compass to make the right choice. I know that if we give it to them our kids will make the right choice. But our kids have not been given that choice. It’s been forced upon them.
Emanuel says the “deck has been stacked” against many youths in Chicago and it’s time to reshuffle the deck.
His three-year mentoring plan will help over 7,000 young people in Chicago and will be paid for with $36 million in public and private funds. This mentoring effort will start from eighth grade to ninth to tenth grade and every year to assist and prepare Chicago youth for college at the cost of $36 million and will be made possible by the city and corporate dollars: Bank of America, Excelon, Peoples Gas, Get in Chicago, and Jimmy John’s have all committed to help strengthen Chicago and help the youth reach their potential.
As he wrapped it up and called for all Chicagoans to participate in the change, Mayor Rham Emanuel was moved to tears when he recalled a police officer who tragically lost his son to gun violence found the strength to put his uniform back on to fight violence and defend the city with integrity and dignity.
‘We need to strengthen policing, We need to strengthen prevention, we need to strengthen penalties, and we need to strengthen parenting . . . and act like a united city.”
“We must invest in troubled neighborhoods rather than drive around them, we must support our officers, the city of Chicago is our home, the people of Chicago are our family.”