The violence that plagues the streets of Chicago is not new. Though it has only recently been reported by media outlets around the world, the violence in the streets of Chicago has existed for decades. Another fact that you might find interesting and hopefully shocking, it isn’t by chance, believe it or not, all of this destruction was planned. Please read on as I bring you up to snuff.
During the 50’s and 60’s massive amounts of heroin was “dumped” in Black communities around the country. This was done as a strategic maneuver to cause mass addiction and to quell the civil rights movement which at that time was gaining momentum. In the 70’s, the Nixon administration initiated the ”War on Drugs”, under the guise as an effective means for law enforcement to take down and prosecute drug cartels that seemed to operate above the law. During the presidency of Ronald Reagan the “war on drugs” was reinstituted and the “Just Say No” campaign swept America, unfortunately, so did “crack” cocaine. Americans oblivious to its true intentions supported the laws and statutes that came about from the “war”.
What actually happened was the statutes of this war gave law enforcement carte blanche to violate the constitutional rights of Blacks. According to federal records, there were no Blacks arrested for the transport and wholesale sale of narcotics. In fact only 33% of those arrested for ANY drug related offenses were Black, yet 73% of those serving time for those same offenses were Black. According to a 1998, University of Georgia study, Blacks receive sentences and average of 6 months longer than non-Blacks for the same crimes. According to Federal statistics, due to crack’s prevalence in predominantly Black neighborhoods the sentencing for “crack” convictions is 3 times as long as the sentencing for “cocaine” convictions.
Illinois prisons are filled with an astonishing amount of non-violent petty offenders. Illinois incarcerates Blacks on an 8 to 1 ratio to whites for drug related offenses. The population of Illinois Department of Corrections has a population of 60% Black with over two thirds incarcerated for non-violent offenses such as drug possessions. Whites and blacks engage in drug offenses at similar rates, yet an overwhelming focus of law enforcement on drug use in low-income urban areas, with arrests and incarceration the main weapon. Furthermore Blacks were 2.8 to 5.5 times more likely to be arrested than whites in every year between 1980 and 2007. Illinois has a greater percentage for putting more African Americans behind bars for drug crimes than whites than any other state in the nation. Between 2000 and 2007, simple pot possession arrests alone accounted for between 37.7% and 42.1% of all drug arrests.
The violence in the streets of Chicago and other metropolitan areas is a direct result of the mass incarceration of the Black male and its devastating effects on the Black community. Society grooms us to believe and accept that law enforcement and the judicial system, is right and fair and those that run afoul of it must be wrong or guilty. Potential employers, institutes of education and even family members look upon an individual with a felony conviction with utter disdain. The judicial system has devised a way to legalize discrimination by placing a permanent blot on an individual, no matter the circumstances or how petty the offense. The likelihood of a Black male, convicted of petty offenses such as drug possession, acquiring gainful employment is slim at best. Regardless of a nonviolent criminal history, the conviction placed on his record makes it legal for this individual to endure hardships parallel to those instituted during the Jim Crow era. The scene for re-offense is set as the frustration due to the inability to provide for his family mounts, thus resulting in probable re-incarceration.
The father provides a vital asset to the family structure as well as the Black community. Through the mass incarceration of Black men, the mission to disassemble the Black family has been achieved. Men are the head of the family, families create communities. Taking out the Black male creates communities that lack any form of leadership. When young men are raised without the influence of a positive male they often lack the ability to apply logical analytical problem solving to everyday situations. These emotionally charged young men often apply irrational solutions to rational circumstances. In many cases these men grow into adulthood with resentment for the absence of the father. Others may lack respect for a father unable to provide for his family. The young men grow into adulthood seeing society as a two sided group, the haves and the have nots. Many develop an erred since of entitlement, a bleak outlook on future life with a total disregard for their own life as well as the lives of others. With the absence of a real sense of self-worth, a false sense is developed, guided not by the laws of the land but replaced with the laws of the street, laws that classify individuals as either predator or prey. As a result, violence ensues and death numbers skyrocket.
The violence perpetrated in Chicago streets come as a direct result of the mass incarceration of the Black male. Laws, put in place by the “War on Drugs”, have caused great loss of life here in Chicago. It is not uncommon to cruise through Black neighborhoods and see tactical police officers patting each other on the back and giving high fives for taking down an old man in possession of some minute amount of drugs. In the distance, the sound of rapid gun fire from automatic weapons can be heard; a sound as common as chirping birds to Black community residents. This activity is followed immediately by another familiar sound, easily recognizable to Black community residents, a mother’s cry of pain due to her slain child as the detective in charge of the case simply writes another murdered youth off as gang related or drug related so that it can be added to the 75% plus of the unsolved homicides here in Chicago. I guess to the powers that be the “War on Drugs” is working exactly as planned.