The beginning of summer normally brings thoughts of cookouts, picnics, summer travel and fanciful feelings of cooling refreshment to beat the summer heat. While some are looking forward to frolicking in water parks, many Chicago youth are instead looking
Already we have seen a spate of shootings that have claimed lives%uFFFDoften-young lives. And, unfortunately, with that increase of shootings, we have seen a heightened police presence, which has produced eight police shootings of Black men in a 10-day period. The more violent crime, the stronger the police response, the more police shootings. It is a deadly merry-go-round that must be stopped.
No matter how often that scene is repeated, no matter how much residents have come to accept increased summer violence as a truism, it doesn’t have to be that way. It is not normal! We have the wherewithal to bring down those numbers, and, while the police are charged to protect and serve, we must protect ourselves and serve ourselves. That means that when a crime takes place, we cannot hide behind a ridiculous “no snitchin’” credo that serves only criminals. We can’t refuse to talk to the police, and we cannot continue to enable those who are only taking advantage of our distrust of the police.
It also means that we have to take ownership of our communities. We cannot dismiss the crime as someone else’s problem. We cannot continue to criticize the police when we are not cooperating with their efforts to fight the crime. We cannot continue to attend funerals and wakes and vigils, while harboring the perpetrators of the violence within our communities with our silence and indifference.
It is not enough to sweep the litter off your block or your porch, while ignoring the human litter that keeps you from taking a safe, leisurely walk on that block or sitting comfortably on that porch. The lazy days of summer are supposed to be times of relaxation and vacation. They should be times of festivals and family reunions.
They should not be times of heightened fears about violent crime, and we cannot fall into the trap of not only expecting it, but also treating it as inevitable. We can stop this cycle. Yes, warm weather brings more people out, but it should also mean that summer is not an explanation for violence. We can’t wait on the autumnal equinox to stop the carnage on our streets. It isn’t the warm weather; it is our cold indifference that allows this to continue.
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