Lessons from Chicago

On May 31, 19 Chicago residents were killed. This was the single deadliest day in Chicago in six decades, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab. The lab’s data doesn’t go back further than 1961.

From 7 p.m. Friday, May 29, through 11 p.m. Sunday, May 31, 25 people were killed in the city An additional 85 were wounded by gunfire, according to data maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

According to Chicago’s mayor Lori Lightfoot, on May 31 Chicago’s 911 emergency center received 65,000 calls for all types of service — 50,000 more than on a usual day. The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a radical activist and pal of the infamous Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s one-time pastor, complained that it was “open season” last weekend in his neighborhood and others on the South and West sides. Pfleger said:

On Saturday and particularly Sunday, I heard people saying all over, ‘Hey, there’s no police anywhere, police ain’t doing nothing,’ I sat and watched a store looted for over an hour. No police came. I got in my car and drove around to some other places getting looted [and] didn’t see police anywhere.

That same Sunday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a conference call with city’s alderman. Not surprisingly, the alderman complained about the lawlessness and violence in their wards. You can listen to a recording of the meeting here.

Alderman Michelle Harris (8th Ward) asked: “What are we going to have left in our community?” Answering her own question, she said: “Nothing.” “My major business district is shattered. Why would Walmart or CVS come back to our communities?”

Why, indeed.

Alderman Susan Sadlowski-Garza begged Lightfoot for help. “My ward is a sh*t show; they are shooting at the police,” she said before beginning to cry. Sadlowski-Garza told the mayor she was “scared.”

Lightfoot responded: “This is a massive, massive problem. People are just f*****g lawless right now.” She told the aldermen that officers were in “armed combat” with criminals on the West Side, and were making progress only after bringing in “heavy equipment and stronger pepper spray.”

Her most interesting exchange was a profanity-laced confrontation with Alderman Raymond Lopez. He told Lightfoot that the city was unprepared for the demonstrations:

When downtown is in lockdown, our neighborhoods are next, and our failure to fully get ready for what’s going on in the neighborhoods, we’re seeing this destruction, and we’re thinking that it’s going to somehow end tonight. We have seen where, in other cities, this has gone on for days; and we need to come up with a better plan for days, at least for the next five days, to try and stabilize our communities.

Lopez continued:

Once they’re done looting and rioting and whatever’s going to happen tonight, God help us, what happens when they start going after residents? Going into the neighborhoods? Once they start trying to break down people’s doors, if they think they’ve got something. I’ve got gangbangers with AK-47s walking around right now, just waiting to settle some scores. What are we going to do, and what do we tell residents, other than good faith people stand up? It’s not going to be enough.

Lightfoot tried to duck Lopez’s inquiry. When that didn’t work, she resorted to profanity. “I think you’re 100% full of sh*t, is what I think,” Lightfoot said.

“F*** you, then,” Lopez responded. “Who are you to tell me I’m full of shi*? … Maybe you should come out and see what’s going on.”

Lopez claims that Lightfoot worked with gang members to protect selected areas against looting. She denies the allegation.

The feud between Lightfoot and Lopez is emblematic of tension between Chicago’s Black and Latino communities. Lightfoot acknowledged that the demonstrations and rioting have exacerbated tensions between the two groups.

According to one source, the “Latin Kings” sent a message to the police that they would “take care” of the rioters, and that the police were not needed. Thus, Chicago may have faced the prospect of war in the street between Latinos and Blacks.

There are plenty of lessons to be learned (or reminded of) from the events described above. Among them are these:

Describing protests like the ones in Chicago on the weekend of May 30-31 as “mostly peaceful” is fake news.

Protests like the ones in Chicago on the weekend of May 30-31 have a devastating impact on black lives and black neighborhoods.

Even far leftists are upset when there isn’t enough of a police presence to protect them, their neighborhoods, and their constituents.

Without law and order, Chicago has no future. No city does.

To preserve or restore law and order in the absence of a strong police force, citizens will resort to vigilantism.

When citizens resort to vigilantism, racial tensions are likely to be far greater than when law and order is enforced by a racially mixed and somewhat accountable police department.

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