Bloody Urban Landscapes 30

This op-ed by Bob Herbert in the New York Times left me stunned. Here is how the piece opened:

Driving through some of this city’s neighborhoods is like driving through an alternate, horrifying universe, a place where no one thinks it’s safe to be a child.

You follow a map in which the coordinates are laid out in blood. Over there, in front of that convenience store, is where Fred Couch, 16, was shot to death last December. The Couch boy went to the same school, Christian Fenger Academy, as Derrion Albert, an honor student who was beaten with wooden planks and kicked to death three months earlier in a broad daylight attack that was recorded on a cellphone by an onlooker.

The whole column is well worth a read when you have the time. Something clearly needs to be done. Herbert is right. There is no outrage let alone outcry in a nation of self-professed

I have yet to hear a single national politician make mention of it. Not even the former Senator and south Chicago community organizer from Illinois. That doesn’t let We The People off the hook.  This isn’t a huge water cooler subject either.  We allow such lawlessness to exist every day in ever corner of this self-professed nation of laws.

The question now is what are we going to do about it tomorrow?

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30 thoughts on “Bloody Urban Landscapes

  • OldenGoldenDecoy

    I skimmed the comment thread on this . . .

    And it didn’t take long to find a comment that takes a look at what may underlie such behavior in the so-called greatest nation on earth.

    9.Jon JostMay 8th, 2010When by example, high and low, a culture exalts power, corruption, wealth, celebrity, but offers few avenues for actually having it. What Army generals do is emulated by gang chiefs; what Wall Street bankers do is emulated by muggers. In a country where obtaining a gun, legally or not, requires minimal money and less IQ, is easy, but obtaining a meaningful education is difficult, we should not be surprised at the mayhem which surrounds us. But it isn’t just in the “bad neighborhoods” where this happens, but up in Evanston where another class lives off the booty of a violent militarily driven Empire masquerading as “business” and “America’s interests.” Recommended by 113 Readers


    • OldenGoldenDecoy

      Community Oriented Policing . . .Although far from perfect, it has proven to have been very effective here in a “community” that covers 498.3 square miles, with a population of 3.8 million. Here is is part of what’s done and the main starting point of need when it comes to the youth of the community.

      The Jeopardy Program The Jeopardy Program is a gang prevention/intervention program for boys and girls ages 8 through 17 and their parents. Jeopardy combines the strength of the community, neighborhood schools and the police department to effect positive, lifelong attitudinal changes in the young people so as to have a positive impact on the community. Jeopardy targets “at risk” children, offering a variety of educational and physical projects, from tutoring to martial arts. The goals of the Jeopardy Program are: Decrease truancy Improve grades Increase graduation rates Improve self-esteem Decrease the risk of gang involvement Improve conflict resolution and other life-affirming skills Improve and demonstrate goal-setting skills Improve reading and writing Decrease violent and other inappropriate behavior The Jeopardy Program Works by: Identifying the children that need help Notifying their parents and holding a family interview Referring families to local community counseling agencies Holding monthly family seminars Offering alternative activities to be selected by each child Monitoring the children monthly for at least one year How You Can Become Involved The Los Angeles Police Department’s Jeopardy Program is dedicated to helping children avoid a life of crime and gangs. As a community, we must realize that the continually growing gang problem is not going to disappear on its own. The children of our community need to know that there are alternatives to gangs; places where they can belong, meet new friends, feel safe and develop physically and mentally. These young people need to know that there are concerned adults who will care about them now and in the future. Here are some things that you can do to help: Volunteer your time as a tutor, sports coach, fund-raiser or class instructor (computers, crafts, photography, etc.) Donate equipment such as tables, chairs, chalkboards, art supplies, books, sports equipment, computers, printers, video games, televisions, pens and pencils, notebooks, paper, board games and puzzles Offer a job to a young man or woman involved in the Jeopardy program Contribute funding to be used to further the solid and effective work of the Jeopardy Program For more information about the Jeopardy Program in your neighborhood, call the number corresponding to your community below. If you don’t know which community your neighborhood is in, go to the Community Map


      • Jason Everett Miller

        Though I lived in LA for a short time, I am not really familiar with their crime statistics. I think you pointing to lack of community as an important point, though.

        The film Made in America highlights that very fact, as well as detailing the tragic beginning of LA’s urban warfare in the over-zealous “tough on crime” trends from the 50s and 60s. Not to mention the racial aspects of how laws were (and are) enforced.

        What was a ride home from the cops for a white teen became a criminal record for most young black teens who bumped heads with the police during the same time period. We are living with the results of our continuing cultural blindness, but now it is nationwide.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Totally agree that our leaders, both elected and unelected, have created this sort of environment and allowed it to thrive by their own example. Thanks for the comment!

  • rmrd0000

    I am a member of two organizations that have youth mentoring as a prime objective, 100 Black Men and Kiwanis. The Kiwanis club has a camp providing mentoring to at risk youth during the school year and during the summer. I participate in fund raising for both organizations.

    I mentor some youth at my church and was a Big Brother in the past.

    My business provides summer jobs for 6 teenagers during the summer.

    It is a drop in the bucket, but since education and employment are important issues in stemming crime, it is something.

    What are you doing?

    • OldenGoldenDecoy

      Every drop in the bucket counts . . .

      What have I been doing?

      Just about everything you see on the above list.

      For the past 40 years.

      In our immediate neighborhood:

      Identifying and getting to know the children that need helpGetting to know their parents and working with the family Referring families to local community agencies Offering alternative activities to be selected by each child Maintaining a personal interest in the children for at least one year

      And my personal involvement has been:

      Volunteering time as a mentor, sports coach, and fund-raiser Donating equipment to local youth centers and parks and recreation centers Locating and offering jobs to young men and women 

      One drop in the bucket at a time . . .


  • rmrd0000

    Detroit is another urban prairie faing high crime and boarde buildings. The mayor, Dave Bing, wanted to close 44 schools because of declining enrollment. Bing felt that this would have created $1 billion that could be raised over 5 years to improve infrasturcture. A judge recently ruled that the school closings were not legal.

    The Obama administration created an Office of Urban Affairs and targeted funds for high risk cities like Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans. The person who was the director of the office has been tapped to be HUD’s regional director for NY and NJ. Funds have not been flowing to belegured cities.

    Domestic Policy Advisor Melody Barnes and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett are working with the office during the transition period.

    City strfe is out of site, out of mind.

      • rmrd0000

        Dave Bing seems to be a reasonable person. I wonder if the declining enrollment justifies the closures. I also would wonder if some schools have been left to flounder so long that they no longer provide a safe environment for education. Structurally many schools may be unsound.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Good points. Michelle Rhee is doing a lot of reshuffling of the deck in DC school to seemingly good effect. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of solutions for Detroit that don’t involve drastic measures, but I am far from an expert on the area.

  • thepeoplechoose

    This starts at the top. Our entire government has morphed into a criminal enterprise. Any day of the week, even hour by hour, you can listen to the criminals spewing their lies. They lead by example.

    The only chance is for the entire working class to tell them to go piss up a pipe. Just bring the country to a full stop for as long as it takes.

    The fraud of a corporation being called a citizen is emblematic of how messed up we are. Follow that up with the fact that no congressperson or president can get elected without untold millions of corporate dollars. This is a recipe for disaster. And get all the idealogues out of government and find people willing to deal in facts and measurable outcomes.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Yet most Americans do not vote, either at the ballot-box or the cash register, so I am not sure how we expect anything to change for the better.

      At a certain point, We The People need to get off our dead asses and make something happen. Perhaps we could use evolution this time instead of revolution.

      The systems and resources exist for the salvation of society if we can but turn them to our own devices.

  • San Fernando Curt

    A couple of years ago, I watched “Colors”, with Sean Penn and Robert Duvall playing uniform L.A.P.D. cops in gang-riddled East L.A. One struck me: In the 20 or so years since the movie was made, the only thing that has changed is that the horrors it presents have become worse. It’s a long, utterly ignored crises that surfaces only occasionally, as in Herbert’s column. No political side, Right or Left, has an answer. So we spend our time obsessed with trendy “controversies” like the Birthers. The only answer for the people living in these neighborhood hellholes is to find some way to get out.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      That and the hope that some developer is trying to find a way in before you go as happened in my NE Washington DC neighborhood. As least then you get a payday for the fear and heartache and pain.

      I linked to Stacy Peralta’s excellent document above. That film was a total eye-opener for me on a number of levels, not the least of which is that such statistics would never be tolerated in a mostly white neighborhood, no matter how poor or how far out of sight.

      We have some serious issues to be sure, but nothing that can’t be solved by applying a little common sense and morals. Odd to be lacking both in the country birthed by Ben Franklin and “blessed” by God.

      Another young light was snuffed out over the weekend in Southeast DC. How many more will die before we wake up to this decades-long tragedy?

  • brewmn61

    The problem in Chicago is that our police force is in quiet revolt against the mayor for appointing an “outsider” as Police Superintendent, and the mayor is unwilling to court open revolt by forcing the police to do their jobs:

    The CPD and the mayor seem perfectly content to let the killings continue unabated, as long as it’s contained in the three or four neighborhoods where 75% of these murders occur.

    It’s a sickening aspect of the city I called home for over twenty years. But Daley will get re-elected with 65% or more of the vote the next time he runs. You can count on it.

    As long as these war-zone levels of violence are kept segregated from the white, middle-class, family friendly parts of the city, and as long as the residents of those war zones are too disorganized or too apathetic to vote in numbers that would force accountability on the city’s leadership, this disgusting phenomenon will continue to mar the reputation of one of this country’s finest cities.

  • destor23

    It is sad. I think you’ll find both parties avoiding the topic because during the late 90s they basically considered the decaying cities problem “solved.” A lot of crow would have to be eaten on all sides were people to admit that they didn’t get the job done.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      One of Clinton’s biggest feathers was the Omnibus Crime Bill in 1994 that got bipartisan support and put 400,000 new cops on the streets of America’s inner cities, despite the fact that crime rates had been falling for a decade or more as education & employment opportunities increased for inner city youth.

      You are right. Both parties have failed to provide substantive and sustainable solutions to this issue as well as so many others. Ironic part is most of them have been in office for decades making the same mistakes over and over again with no consequences.

      I think OGD and Curt have the right of it – The violent breakdown we see in American cities is simply a reaction to the corruption and violence those kids see everyday on TV.

  • worthy9

    Well what did you think Eminem was talking about after the media and politicians went into full-on outraged preacher polemic after Columbine:

    “…and look where it’s at;
    Middle America, now it’s a tragedy;
    now it’s so sad to see, an upper class city;
    having this happening…”

    Nobody pays attention to this shit anymore when it happens in the inner-city. Watch Crips and Bloods: Made in America and tell me the state of South Central, LA – located within the richest nation on Earth – isn’t an outrageous crime.

    Hell, I used to live on Mission Hill in Boston (not even a bad city for this kind of stuff) and one Saturday night my house was broken into while I was out. I called the police and they said they’d send a car. I waited three hours and no car. So I called back and the woman said she’d re-page them. I waited another 2 hours and called again. She said to me “sir, we’re a little busy with stabbings and shootings right now so we’ll get there when we can” and hung up on me. I suffered cracked ribs during a home invasion later that year.

    Yet, I look at the newspaper every day and the only place I see this stuff is in the police logs. Believe me, it’s happening. We just don’t see it in the media.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      That movie was eye-opening for me as well as being a great documentary. Really shines a light on the way this whole thing started in our inner cities.

      I spoke above about how the film chronicles young black men being thrown in jail for the same innocent teenage problems that got white kids a ride home and a stern talking to by their parents.

      It began as a reaction to the inevitability of civil rights and has metastasized into the cancer we see eating our cities.

      • worthy9

        The most revelatory part of that movie for me was when they had a guy talking about how, at this point, there’s an entire generation of children growing up knowing nothing but gang warfare right outside their house. They’ve never known anything else but night after night of their friends, family, neighbors dying at random under a hail of high-velocity, automatic gunfire. Knowing nothing else but the fear that at any point a stray bullet might fly through a window or wall and kill them.

        And it might actually be a welcome release from that kind of hell.