Editor’s note: To memorialize the victims of Chicago’s most violent year in two decades, the Chicago Sun-Times wrapped Sunday’s print editions with 618 faces of the 780 people murdered citywide in 2016 — every victim’s photo that the newspaper could obtain. Columnist Mary Mitchell offers her take on steps to address the city’s violence problem here. To read more stories of homicide victims, go to the Homicide Watch Chicago website: homicides.suntimes.com. Chicago Sun Times
"You're not the only mother------- out there with guns," - the late Joshua BealWhat's the cure to Chicago's homicides? An accurate diagnosis would be a great start. However, compelling narratives are the rule of the day. People kill people. They will use a gun, a 2 X 4, a tire iron, a rock, a blade, or broom to effect the demise of some person who has something the killer wants, or to send a message, or to quiet a witness, or burnish one's street cred, or just playing.
White people kill, black people kill, even Alsatian Quakers kill, if they are accustomed to bad behavior, have no moral core, or happen to be psychopaths. People tend to work their way up the gradus of bad behavior, before becoming killers.
Compelling narratives frame people with very bad behavior as victims of systemic racism, economic exploitation, or identity frustration. But that is not why people kill. People kill when they believe that they can get away with it. If one gets away with misbehavior at every turn, be it jaywalking, disrupting the classroom, intimidating weaker people, stealing, spitting,littering, raping and looting, why not light some one up?
Shopping Malls are up for grabs as mobs of kids act out, just as they do during the school day. Dots remain unconnected.
We see the problem as a chalk outline and not the previous few hours and minutes of the life outlined and its encounter with a gun owner.
When we are sick and hurting we need good, no-nonsense physicians attending our problems.
My son was three years old and one morning he could not walk. " My legs somehow can't work." His older sister cried, "Conor can't walk!" Terrified his mother and I scooped him up and darted to La Porte Hospital ER.
There the child was examined for hours.
In the mean time, I had called Dr. James Kennedy, M.D. recently retired surgeon who was himself in the early stages of the Parkinson's Disease that would take his life, far too soon. Dr. Kennedy spent all of his free time either going to swimming meets for his seven athletic children, or attending burn seminars, or surgical methodology demonstrations.
My two physician pals, Doctors Rick Clark and Mark Manning trained under the gimlet eye of Dr. Kennedy. They told me of a mass shooting that flooded victims into the St. Mary's Hospital ER in Kankakee, Illinois one summer's night. Dr. Kennedy was off and the ER was a madhouse. Dr. Kennedy happened to be walking west on Court Street when he saw the all of ambulances charging toward St. Mary's. Doc went straight there.
Into the chaos, panic and blood appeared Dr. James Kennedy - deus ex machina! Quiet, order and efficiency saved a dozen lives.
Doc Kennedy counselled, " Don't sign off on anything. Stay calm like your wife, Mary. She never panics. I 'll be there in an hour."
The doctors ran a series of blood tests on the little guy. They were very concerned. Recently, a three year old in Long Beach had been diagnosed with cancer and the first sign had been an inability to walk.
Mary and I clutched hands and prayed.
Dr. Kennedy arrived and needed no introduction as his reputation preceded him even here in Indiana.
" What's the trouble Conor?"
" I can't somehow walk."
Dr. Kennedy examined his feet and legs, " He has been wearing cowboy boots," he stated and not asked.
Mary told him that her mother had bought Conor and his two cousins cowboy boots at Lighthouse Square the week before.
" They're too tight."
No cancer. no Byzantine pathology required. No extended stay, or observations necessary. Conor went on to play every sport but baseball, never dropped a snap as a football center in four years of play at St. Rita and La Lumiere. He is walking to the Cotton Bowl to watch the Broncos of Western Michigan challenge the Badgers and walks proudly. He never again wore cowboy boots.
Chicago's murder scores sit at 795.
Here is current wisdom from activists, politicians and the go-along Chicago Media and my rejoinder.
- It's Guns - inanimate objects; pencils do not fail exams
- It's Gangs - Old Homies no longer run the show
- It's Poverty -guns are not free
- It's Unemployment- guns are not free
- It's Racism - what isn't?
- It's Policing - Policing has been outlawed by City Hall, the Peoples Law Office, Black Lives Matter, Carol Marin, Eric Zorn, The Chicago Tribune and Sun Times and WTTW
- It's Not Policing - Depends upon which side of the compelling narrative the media got up on