Pfleger publicity stunts do nothing to stop violence
Father Plfeger organized a protest of community residents and activists to block traffic on the Dan Ryan Expressway recently to protest increasing gang violence. But are the protests good for the community or his own personal interests. What he should be doing is helping residents to stand up to street gangs inside their communities not by criticizing police
By Ray Hanania
I don’t blame Father Michael Pfleger for trying to get publicity to protest the continuing violence in Chicago. Pfleger shut down a part of the Dan Ryan Expressway on Saturday July 7 to put a spotlight on “crime, joblessness and poverty” in Chicago’s neighborhoods.
The disruptive protest did shine a strong light, but did it do much to really stop the violence.
In fact, I don’t think that other than the hard work of the Chicago Police Department, much else is being done to prevent the violence at all.
Crime in Pfleger’s community is almost triple the average in the state of Illinois, according to “AreaVibes.com,” and 30 percent higher than the Chicago average – and Chicago’s crime average is pretty miserable.
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Pfleger has dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of the poor for years. He graduated from Quigley South, Loyola and became a Catholic Priest in 1975, taking over as pastor of St. Sabina Church since 1981 in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest Side bounded by Western Avenue on the west and 75th Street on the north, 95th Street on the south and the Dan Ryan to the east. German American, his parish is African American.
That alone is notable.
All Pfleger did with his organized protest was to anger the public, disrupting commuters, although in truth, the commuters were mostly weekenders and members of the public traveling to and from the Loop from Chicago’s South suburbs, where crime is also higher than most other suburban communities.
But even if he did block the Steven Expressway, the Eisenhower Expressway and the Kennedy Expressway, would it really make a difference, and do more than just shine a spotlight on Chicago’s violence?
What should Pfleger do? Crime in Chicago has always been a problem but in recent years it has worsened with record annual highs and lows that are still shocking.
I’m not a social scientist, but I think I can guess that Chicago’s crime is driven by the excessive poverty in most of the communities were crime is at the highest. Wealthy Chicagoans lock themselves up in Loop high-rises and gentrified neighborhoods. Many suburbanites drive in and drive out, with their doors locked.
Chicago’s politicians are not doing much. They’re too busy trying to raise money to cover the pensions and benefits they have handed out generously to their loyal supporters over the years.
Instead of stopping the crime, they scream about it. They point fingers everywhere, except at themselves. Chicago’s crime is everyone else’s fault, not Chicago’s fault. Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks a lot about fighting crime but can’t really do much better than any of his predecessors. Even when Chicago’s Mayor was African American, Eugene Sawyer and Harold Washington, the crime wave remained strong.
Meanwhile, the city is forced to pay outrageous settlements to the alleged victims of police violence, which brings me to an important point. Do you realize that more lawsuits are filed against the Chicago Police Department and City of Chicago by victims of violence, in many cases street gang members whose parents assert they were “angels,” than are filed against the street gang members?
We spend more time bashing the Chicago Police and blaming them for violence and less on the street gangs that actually take more lives than police officers.
Like Pfleger’s protest, the focus on violence is on the politics, not on the solution.
And instead of taking responsibility for the violence as failed parents, failed Chicago aldermen and failed Catholic priests who declare vows to protect their parishes, they point fingers of blame at everyone else. The Police! The suburbs! The State of Illinois!
Raising taxes and throwing money at the problem is not the answer. The answer is that the people of Chicago need to wake up and be accountable. Parents need to stop seeing their murdered children, whom they obviously paid little attention to in the first place, as winning lottery tickets.
Yes, the parents are responsible and the parents and the people who live in this communities need to get out into the streets and take them back.
Blocking an expressway does nothing, other than remind us all of how poorly the problem of violence is being addressed.
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Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
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His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.
Email Ray Hanania at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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