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Blood in the Streets: A Conversation About Gun Violence in Chicago
July 11, 2014 9:55 PM   Subscribe

"...writing for The Daily Beast, Roland Martin proposed a solution to the surging violence on Chicago's South and West Sides: Send the National Guard to Chicago." "This idea of the powerful causing the problem and then swooping in to benevolently gift us the "solution" is offensive. You can't make up for systemic deprivation through law enforcement. Law enforcement doesn't have the nuance, it doesn't have the tools, and it doesn't actually work." - Josie Duffy in conversation with Ernest Wilkins, Jamilah Lemieux, Jason Parham, and Kiese Laymon.

Roland Martin's article suggesting sending the National Guard to Chicago.

Kiese Laymon on MF: 1, 2.
posted by artof.mulata (61 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Where is there violence going on in Chicago? I know there are gangs and I've seen gang maps, but when I combed Google Street View a few months ago it looked like there's been a lot of gentrification in areas I remember looking pretty bad in the late 1980s.
posted by crapmatic at 10:13 PM on July 11


Where is there violence going on in Chicago?

Chicago homicide mapping and analysis.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:18 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


Jobs. Not job training. Not Steve Jobs. Just jobs.
posted by wuwei at 10:22 PM on July 11 [13 favorites]


One of the ways to get businesses going; to get capital invested is to make sure that the streets are safe. That's the reality. Yes, more education; more mental health counseling; more efficient daycare; more jobs, better schools, more community centers. Do it. And, make sure that the streets are safe.

Lats face it, the conditions of certain neighborhoods and on certain streets is little short of anarchy. Somehow, that needs to stop. Putting in the National Guard in a carefully controlled, monitored way, might have some benefit. The victims of crime are so often law abiding citizens who just want to get through their day. Currently, many Chicago citizens fear for their lives when they walk out on the street. This is wrong, and something needs to be done now to curtail the anarchy that exists in certain parts of Chicago.

I would also like to see the National Guard put in place in parts of Oakland and Bayview Hunter's Point, in the Bay Area. At some point, something must be done about the violence, because violence - pervasive violence - will prevent all the other good stuff from happening.
posted by Vibrissae at 10:34 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Yes, more education; more mental health counseling; more efficient daycare; more jobs, better schools, more community centers. Do it. And, make sure that the streets are safe.

No no. Why spend $1 there, when you can spend $10 and bring in more guns? Everyone (who matters) wins that way!
posted by hal_c_on at 10:38 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Vibrissae, you do realize you're asking the Army to occupy black neighborhoods, right?
posted by Avenger at 10:39 PM on July 11 [27 favorites]


Just bringing generic 'jobs' there by securing the area or investing into it isn't going to help fix the problem. The jobs created will almost all be ones the inhabitants aren't eligible for, or for which they'll be outcompeted by people outside the area. At best the area will just gentrify and the gangs will be pushed out to somewhere else.

What needs to be created are jobs that the people in these areas can realistically get, that pay reasonably well. I can't really blame people for joining gangs or dealing drugs when the alternative is to work fast food or some equivalent for less than a living wage until they come down with a medical problem or something and end up dead or hopelessly in debt and on the street. They need actual, realistic opportunity with meaningful rewards attached. Stuff that a regular person from those areas can still access when they've already got a crappy education and maybe a little criminal record, not just that a kid from that area could theoretically accomplish if they were extremely talented and made all of the right decisions in their early life.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:44 PM on July 11 [14 favorites]


Mitrovarr, I mean jobs for everyone. Not just in Chicago. It's doable. We did it in the 1930s and we can do it again. And better.
posted by wuwei at 10:45 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


Yes, more education; more mental health counseling; more efficient daycare; more jobs, better schools, more community centers.

Wall Street had this and more and yet no one went to jail for the biggest con in the financial world in history. Send lawyers to white collar crimes and the National Guard to the inner cities.
posted by locidot at 10:48 PM on July 11


I was more commenting on Vibrissae's post. Securing the area and investing money might fix the place but can't fix the problem; at best it can only displace it.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:48 PM on July 11


I think every 'solution' should pass the 'dystopia test' (IE: not an important component of some dystopic future).

Occupying military force in US cities is pretty dystopic.

There are too many reasons to list why this is a horrid idea.

Everyone that thinks escalating violence should be a solution to our problems should be rounded up and... oh wait, nevermind.
posted by el io at 10:51 PM on July 11 [10 favorites]


Has anyone contacted the National Guard about this brilliant idea?

With the exception of some Military Police units, which unless Illinois is unlike the rest of the country are stretched pretty thin at the moment, this does not seem like a good job for the military. Exactly what sort of ROE are you going to send Joe Private out with, when he goes out on the streetcorner with his weapon? Does he get his usual 210 rounds worth of green-tips? Or is he expected to just stand there with his proverbial dick in his hands? It has all the trappings of a shit mission to me, on both sides.

The military doesn't do law enforcement well. Call up the military when you want something built, something blown up, someone rescued, or someone killed. Otherwise, call the police.

The Army is not your deus ex machina.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:52 PM on July 11 [29 favorites]


el io, if the governor sends the NG to Chicago, I feel like we're living in an episode of DS9:
Meanwhile, Sisko and Bashir are awakened by a pair of police officers, who believe them to be vagrants and warn them to get off the streets. They are escorted to a "Sanctuary District", a fenced-off ghetto that is used to contain the poor, the sick, the mentally disabled, and anyone else who cannot support themselves. Sisko sees the date on the calendar and realizes they have arrived just days before the "Bell Riots", a violent confrontation in the San Francisco Sanctuary District, that Sisko recalls as a watershed moment in human history. Dozens will be killed, including a man named Gabriel Bell, the leader of the demonstration. Bell will become a hero because of his self-sacrifice while protecting hostages. As a result of Bell's heroism attitudes to the poor and sick begin to change. Unable to find a building to sleep in, Sisko and Bashir live in the street.
Link
posted by wuwei at 10:54 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


One problem with this idea is that it kind of seriously violates the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:18 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Posse Comitatus prevents POTUS from deploying federal armed forces in such a way domestically, but the Gov of Illinois is the commander in chief of their states National Guard forces (when not activated for federal use). Now I'm one too many Ginger Lemon Tequilas in to go digging through another states constitution , but in general I think it would incumbent on the state to legislatetivly restrict its Gov. from being able to deploy its guard forces in this way.
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 11:27 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Apparently, the American way would be to go through and systematically demolish any neighborhoods that offer any refuge for the disenfranchised and replace them with million dollar condos and tech companies. It can just lie fallow and empty until development needs it. If the residents can't afford it they'll have to move somewhere else.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:08 AM on July 12


The idea that the powerful give a shit about the 'the violence' is laughable. People can murder each other in the ghettos all day long and no one will care. All they care is that it's contained. If you want to see the future of America, look at Brazil, look at Colombia. The incredibly wealthy living in gated communities and luxury condos, served by robots and whoever is willing to toil for minimum wage, and everyone else living in slums. The wealthy have safety and what people used to call 'human' rights, and everyone else gets a nice cold glass of tear gas, no knock raids and stop-and-frisk.

Dystopia isn't the future any more. A lot of people already live in it.
posted by empath at 3:20 AM on July 12 [20 favorites]


The idea that we can replicate the jobs programs of the 1930's is wrong for one simple reason: it took 5000 men to build the Hoover Dam, a project that would only employ 150 people today.
posted by postel's law at 4:11 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Where is there violence going on in Chicago?

I'm a bit downstate and not super familiar myself with the city's neighborhoods but Peter Nickeas reports on Chicago street violence, live-tweeting and instagraming incidents from the scene while monitoring the scanner for the next neighborhood or street to head to. Over the 4th of July holiday weekend he documented 82 people shot in 84 hours.
posted by hegemone at 4:39 AM on July 12


So, Chicago's aggravated assault count is at 40 year lows (and steadily declining), its robbery count is at 40 year lows (and steadily declining), and its murder rate is at a 40-year low and is half of what it was in the early nineties.

Now is certainly the time to bring the National Guard.
posted by The Giant Squid at 4:51 AM on July 12 [16 favorites]


This is why I donate all my money to the Society to Protect the 3rd Amendment rather than the ACLU or NRA. It hasn't happened yet, but they are just itching to start quartering troops in our houses. It's the next logical step after they occupy the cities.

Seriously though, the police are military enough that we can be pretty sure the military isn't the solution here.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:53 AM on July 12


empath, I've traveled to Brazil several times for work in the last few years, and I have three more trips over the next six months. I've had the good fortune to be hosted by people on the "prosperous" side of the line, and I continue to find that separation between the rich and the poor jarring. It seems to me that there there is a middle class, but it's small compared to, say, where we used to be in the US, and I don't know if it has much of a future. Sadly, I think I agree with you that we're heading the same direction ourselves, and the National Guard in Chicago isn't going to do anything to solve the very real systemic problems that are taking us there.

The problem, is always, one of incentives. There is a huge impedance mismatch between the incentives of the political class and the "average" citizen. You see this in a lot of ways, and it even gets chicken-and-egg-ish. Maybe if voter turnout was better, particularly in midterms, politicians would listen more. But action has been taken to deliberately make it harder for people to vote, particularly the poor. Districts have been gerrymandered such that even if the poor do turn out en masse vote their vote only count for half or a third of a suburbanites vote (sort-of touched on here).

But there's always some pundit willing to come along and explain that if only those people would listen to him, why, everything would be okay. The problem isn't systematic inequality and the ongoing dismantling of the American economy for the advantage of the rich, you see, it's the immorality and ignorance of the poor that's the problem. I mean, look, they're practically animals, shooting each other in the streets like that!

I wish I had something constructive to add, like an idea for actually fixing the problem. But I don't, not really. Maybe the US is too big and too heterogeneous to govern effectively under our current system. But there's not even a plausible road to a fix for that, not really.
posted by wintermind at 4:55 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Seriously though, the police are military enough that we can be pretty sure the military isn't the solution here.

Well, if you bring in the military, what you've got is no longer crime, but an insurgency, and you saw how we handled the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. First the national guard, then drone strikes, torture and mercenaries.
posted by empath at 5:02 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Seriously though, the police are military enough that we can be pretty sure the military isn't the solution here.

But you are underestimating the dynamic pin-point accuracy of our modern military weapons. We wouldn't need "boots on the ground," as they say, but targeted strikes from remote piloted aerial vehicles. With drones we can identify and eliminate unlawful combatants in targeted Chicago neighborhoods. Show up in the wrong neighborhood with a gun and you're toast, from a mile up. I mean, the evidence of the effectiveness of this policy is clear from our war in Pakistan and Afghanistan...
posted by ennui.bz at 5:03 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


It's not as if we haven't firebombed our own cities or assassinated Americans with drones.
posted by empath at 5:05 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


There is now a notion afoot that suggests that when places get out of control, send in the National Guard. Chico? why not? Detroit? sure. And of course the border with Mexico...why not, then, a national police force?
Then, too, gun laws that are national rather than section by section in the nation so that it remains easy to buy and ship them or sell them.
posted by Postroad at 5:08 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


We could, of course limit 'civilian casualties' by dropping flyers over housing projects overrun by gangs before dropping a smart bomb on them. Anyone there when the bombs landed would be responsible for their own deaths.

Really it's a simple problem with simple solutions. There's no social issue that more guns and heavy explosives can't fix.
posted by empath at 5:08 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


So, Chicago's aggravated assault count is at 40 year lows (and steadily declining), its robbery count is at 40 year lows (and steadily declining), and its murder rate is at a 40-year low and is half of what it was in the early nineties.

Now is certainly the time to bring the National Guard.


I somewhat with you on the cynicism, but the more charitable reading would be that the declining murder and other crime numbers have laid bare how spatially and demographically concentrated the killings actually are. It's not that Chicago as a whole has a shooting problem, it's that specific neighborhoods (and down to the level of specific streets and specific networks of friends and acquaintances) have a shockingly high rate of violence, and outside of that you have a calm and peaceful city. The earlier higher numbers and the lack of easy spatial analysis of that crime data back then helped elide that concentration; the ease with which the homicide numbers dropped elsewhere but have not done so in those specific places also means that just "doing more of the same" isn't very likely to have any good outcomes, because it's clearly not working.

.why not, then, a national police force?

The US is a real outlier internationally in not having a national police force (and, as you note, consistent national or even state firearms regulations, a major issue in Chicago). There is both good and bad to the deliberately fragmentary nature of US policing -- a national police force could easily become the TSA of policing, or could help end the consistent and low-grade racism and corruption that is a feature of so many local police departments. How much do you trust our current congress to implement this well?

It seems to me that there there is a middle class, but it's small compared to, say, where we used to be in the US, and I don't know if it has much of a future. Sadly, I think I agree with you that we're heading the same direction ourselves, and the National Guard in Chicago isn't going to do anything to solve the very real systemic problems that are taking us there.

The systemic problems in the US are definitely pushing in the direction of places like Brazil and Venezuela (whereas Brazil over the last decade has been making progress away from that path, though still incrementally and partially), and an almost inevitable part of having massive inequality and a compressed middle class seems to be a need to use the military to help maintain order and keep the violence confined to poor areas. As a middle class person I am very much opposed to this, though it's probably a great thing if you are an oligarch and get all the benefits of both inequality and heavy handed state violence. When I lived in Brazil it was a more violent time there than it is now, and the truly rich had created entirely separate lives, flying overhead in private helicopters while you worried about your taxi being carjacked or the bus being robbed at the next intersection.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:35 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


To get a picture of the pervasiveness of gun violence in Chicago and why the police or military as they currently stand won't cut it, watch the PBS documentary The Interrupters. It's simultaneously horrifying, bleak, and hopeful.
posted by Turkey Glue at 5:40 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


The US is a real outlier internationally in not having a national police force

We do have the FBI and Attorney General's office that tend to swoop in whenever they decide a crime is national in scope, which can be good in civil rights cases or when there's clearly local police corruption, or very bad, as in the war on drugs. I don't think we really aught to be stretching their powers much further. FBI agents on patrol in squad cars? No thank you.

Let's, as a society, do something for our fellow citizens & work for some economic equality.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:14 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


We wouldn't need "boots on the ground," as they say, but targeted strikes from remote piloted aerial vehicles.

Robocop is weeping.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:22 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


The idea that we can replicate the jobs programs of the 1930's is wrong for one simple reason: it took 5000 men to build the Hoover Dam, a project that would only employ 150 people today.

We can make infrastructure improvements on the scale of the Hoover Dam with 3% of the labor it used to require - so instead let's do nothing!
posted by Metafilter Username at 6:30 AM on July 12 [18 favorites]


Lats face it, the conditions of certain neighborhoods and on certain streets is little short of anarchy

Have you ever spent any time on the West Side or the South Side? Or are you just assuming that it must be 'anarchy' because Gangs?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:36 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


I didn't say let's do nothing, just that replicating the WPA isn't an effective solution at the scale needed.
posted by postel's law at 6:38 AM on July 12


I like this idea if "National Guard" means "massive infusion of resources." I mean, if there were a thousand city-organized youth activities and a thousand new social service and tutoring centers and a guarantee of a vocational education good enough to get you some kind of job, that could work. Otherwise ... nope.
posted by miyabo at 7:16 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


This is a great post from a couple weeks ago about the effects of policing in black neighborhoods.
posted by rtha at 7:49 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


I like this idea if "National Guard" means "massive infusion of resources."

"National Guard" is the military. There's no other definition for it.

This is his specific recommendation, which appears to have been offered in complete seriousness:
They can erect barricades and check points, inspect cars, confiscate guns, run warrant checks and shut down the cartels in the city.

In effect, Chicago needs a troop surge like what we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan. If we wanted to make the lives of residents there safer, why not do the same for Americans?
Yes, he seriously wants to bring our successful(!) intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan home.
posted by empath at 7:59 AM on July 12


I like this idea if "National Guard" means "massive infusion of resources."

Agreed. Setting aside the military issue, what's positive about this line of thinking is getting the involvement of people who don't live in these neighborhoods. When people say it's a community issue, what they usually mean is, it's that community's issue and not our community's issue. That doesn't work. There are a lot of ways that help from more affluent neighborhoods can go wrong, but you need to steer between those, because outside involvement really is what's needed. In large doses.

But then that's not so revelatory. It's what's needed anyway, crime epidemics aside.
posted by cribcage at 8:19 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


For those who are thinking it's "anarchy" on those streets; looking at the map that Dip Flash posted about Chicago homicides I can see that I (an affluent white male) ride my bike through the single worst neighborhood each day on my way to and from work. Looking at the map, 3 people have died this year along the exact route that I take.

I never feel unsafe (from the locals, the potholes are another story) while riding my bike. This is not a general violence that's assaulting any and all who enter this area, but a cycle of vengeance against each other.
posted by KirTakat at 8:27 AM on July 12


Over the 4th of July holiday weekend he documented 82 people shot in 84 hours.

Holy shitting fuck. I don't.. no words.

why not, then, a national police force?

We have one, the RCMP, and it's rather useful. America might want to look into the idea. (FBI is close, but not quite. RCMP kinda sorta merges the FBI with the DEA with regular police work, they operate nationally, and also operate where provincial police forces can't.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:45 AM on July 12


Chicago has the choice of becoming Detroit or not becoming Detroit.
posted by Renoroc at 8:50 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


What is this about soaring violence?

The truth is simple. Chicago Homicides Are Not Soaring (but we could do better.)

In fact, Chicago's homicide rate has fallen for the last twenty years every year but two, and those two were only slight rises. In fact, the 2013 homicide rate was the lowest since 1958.

For the vast majority of people reading this, the number of murders in Chicago was lower in 2013 than it has been in your entire lifetime. And it's not just homicide. All forms of violent crime have been dropping in Chicago -- and in Detroit, and in New York, and in LA, over the same time scales.

The question then becomes, since the factual evidence is that violent crime is not only not soaring in Chicago, but is in fact dropping, has been dropping, and is continuing to drop, why is there this perception that Chicago's violent crime rates are soaring?

Who is making this perception? Who benefits from it? Does it have anything to do from where the current US President was living before he became president?

So, why should I deploy the National Guard to any city when crime rates are dropping? Again, who benefits?

And as to safety? If you don't feel safe, please move to any number of suburbs that have had one murder -- which will give them a vastly higher murder rate than Chicago. Please, move to Detroit or St. Louis, where you are four times likely to be murdered.

Or, better yet, please learn to get the *facts*, and then ask the important question.

WHO is pushing the lie that violent crime in Chicago is soaring, and what benefits are they getting by doing so?
posted by eriko at 9:00 AM on July 12 [21 favorites]


crapmatic: "Where is there violence going on in Chicago? I know there are gangs and I've seen gang maps, but when I combed Google Street View a few months ago it looked like there's been a lot of gentrification in areas I remember looking pretty bad in the late 1980s."

I think one of the things I read is that the breakup of areas like Cabrini-Green led to a diaspora of people from the projects. So what happened was the nice, safe, controlled, localized (I'm phrasing that from the perspective of some rich/middle-class white people, not as me, personally) violence got dispersed into a larger region, which no longer was primarily resided in by a dominant portion of poorer people.

This dispersal and its attendant dispersal of violence not only was a mere dispersal of violence, but if I remember what I've read recently, moving into mixed-income neighborhoods helped girls achieve better access to opportunities and education, but the boys fared just as bad if not worse than previously in their old environments.

Some of the articles I could find while trying to find information regarding boys/girls and the move to mixed income neighborhoods (though AFAIK these don't discuss the link to violence directly, I believe this is at least part of the explanation of the spread of violent crime across Chicago.)

Again, as someone noted above, crime is down. The "problem" is that the good safe people now have to face crime in ways they didn't before. Even thought he overall rate is down, people who didn't have to worry about it before are not more worried about the issue, and of course class and race play a role in this perception by those who are living through these changes in their environment, both those who are "moving up" into more affluent communities, and those who had originally lived in those communities.


NBER (pdf): Neighborhood Effects on Crime for Female and Male Youth: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment

UChicago/Case Western (pdf): Youth in mixed-income communities replacing public housing
complexes: Context, dynamics and response


Yale(pdf): The False Promise of the Mixed-Income Housing Project

I'm a bit skeptical of the last one based upon the seemingly biased title and political statement. The title doesn't seem like a rational policy statement, but instead seems to use verbage that is charged to induce a certain sense of perspective, framing the issue in a negative light before the information is even presented. But since it is something that seems to deal with some of the issues, I feel it only fair to present it, even with that caveat.

That said, I think there's some indication that the mixed-income approach is questionable at best at this point in time. I don't *think* it does more harm, but I haven't read close enough to the details, yet... But I do think that there might be room for improvement based upon studies and continued results. Whether that improvement is enough to outweigh any potential costs of these supposed "solutions" (I say it this way, because I don't doubt that many of these "solutions" are attempts to solve the problems that are very specific to developers, and not to a given community in particular).
posted by symbioid at 9:02 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


To answer your question, eriko, or at least guess at an answer: cops and bigger budgets, politicians and re-election.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:03 AM on July 12


How about an even bolder proposal: do absolutely nothing.

1. Teenage pregnancy is declining every year
2. Median years to birth of first child is increasing
3. Average years of maternal education are increasing
4. Economic outcomes for young mothers are improving
5. Educational outcomes for very poor kids are improving (both in reading and math)
6. Dropout rates are declining
7. High school graduation rates are improving
8. Rates of juvenile violent crime are at their lowest level since 1960 (and declining every year)
9. Rates of juvenile property crime are at their lowest level since 1960 (and declining every year)
10. Rates of juvenile drug abuse is at the lowest level since the early 1990s (and declining every year)
11. Median age to first arrest is increasing
12. Jail populations peaked 5-7 years ago, and have either plateaued or started declining in nearly every jurisdiction

Generally, the largest predictor of violence (and 'risky behavior' in general, like drug use or sex at 13) is IQ. In general, any prison population will be nearly entirely made of people between 80 and 90 IQ .

As IQs rise (due to improved nutrition, decline of IQ-affecting neurotoxins like lead, and improvement in parent-child interactions between birth and age 3) - all of the 'bad things' decline, and all of the 'good things' improve.

We're in the middle of a virtuous cycle, and violence will likely continue its decline for years to come. The 'mayors, cops, and the national guard' talk is all a sideshow.
posted by The Giant Squid at 9:56 AM on July 12 [10 favorites]


artof.mulata: "Roland Martin's article suggesting sending the National Guard to Chicago."

As a one-time suburban white girl, now a downstate white lady, all I can say to this is fuck you. Fuck you. No, seriously, FUCK YOU, DUDE.

It fills me with so much rage I can hardly even type/sputter. Like definitely what Chicago's violent and impoverished communities need is MORE POLICE MALTREATMENT with LESS CONNECTION TO THE COMMUNITY. Apparently this dude is totally unaware that a big part of the problem is that law-abiding people are scared shitless to call the cops, because the cops just indiscriminately treat everyone in those neighborhoods like criminals. Definitely shipping in 22-year-old rural white kids from downstate with automatic weaponry is a GREAT SOLUTION to the complex problems of urban violence.

And, hello, this is not a city that has really gotten over the 1968 Democratic National Convention and our awesome interaction with the National Guard then.

KirTakat: "I never feel unsafe (from the locals, the potholes are another story) while riding my bike. This is not a general violence that's assaulting any and all who enter this area, but a cycle of vengeance against each other."

Yes, I have been to some seriously dangerous neighborhoods, even after dark, even by myself, and I have not felt threatened, because this isn't random crime. This is targeted gang- and drug-related violence focused on individuals involved in those lives; their families; and to a certain extent overflow violence in their neighborhoods. As someone visiting the neighborhood, if you're not there to buy drugs or sell sex, you're unlikely to be involved in the violence.

symbioid: "I think one of the things I read is that the breakup of areas like Cabrini-Green led to a diaspora of people from the projects. So what happened was the nice, safe, controlled, localized (I'm phrasing that from the perspective of some rich/middle-class white people, not as me, personally) violence got dispersed into a larger region, which no longer was primarily resided in by a dominant portion of poorer people. "

Chicago also committed to breaking up drug gangs about the same time, so instead of organized crime, we now have extremely disorganized crime. Organize crime sucks, but it keeps the drug trade reasonably well-controlled. When a local drug cartel/gang is broken up, turf wars are far more violent than the organized cartels were, unless you have dramatically reduced demand for drugs at the same time. Which they haven't, and which would require high-impact, intrusive policing in the suburbs, and lots of arresting of people without prior records for non-violent drug possession, which would both be a terrible idea AND extremely unlikely to happen.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:59 AM on July 12 [12 favorites]


More jobs, of the right type (e.g., entry-level/career path/green); hard for me to see a downside, regardless of the situation on the "ground". Here are a few ideas to get us (kick)started: 1. pot farms/urban tilth 2. solar infrastructure 3. space hardware 4. telecom startups (all you really need is a voip switch and a cell-on-wheels) 5. electric vehicles 6. toys 7. first-responder training 8. small-scale refining, of metals/petroleum 9. news production 10. recycling (i guess that's #8) 11. marketing 12. phone support (i, for one, would rather like having an ex-gangbanger tell me to reboot my modem)
posted by ergomatic at 11:02 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Eyebrows McGee: "Definitely shipping in 22-year-old rural white kids from downstate with automatic weaponry is a GREAT SOLUTION to the complex problems of urban violence."

I mean, nothing against 22-year-old rural white kids from downstate, I live right by a big downstate national guard base and the younger guardsmen are nice kids, smart kids, who typically have a picture of a larger world or they wouldn't have bothered joining the national guard. But they're young and they're inexperienced and don't know a lot about big cities or urban violence, and that's definitely not what they're trained for. Their training for in-state disasters tends to focus on catastrophic flood evacuation and on major tornado recovery, not urban policing.

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:07 AM on July 12


Well, I'm glad some others have said: Chicago's homicide rate is way down. Urban homicide rates are way down in general. There is no crisis here, only racism.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:24 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm glad some others have said: Chicago's homicide rate is way down.

And that's the problem that this proposal is intended to solve. After a year of National Guard occupation, the murder rates will be ten times higher, or more! Success!

Also, please note the emphasis the supporters of this idea put on barricades and checkpoints. The whole idea behind this isn't to actually help the people in those neighborhoods but to contain them. Lock them down and keep them away from the wealthy white neighborhoods.

Also, note that this is CHICAGO we're talking about here- our target for talking points on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. As soon as Obama is out of office, this "crisis" will be conveniently forgotten.
posted by happyroach at 1:59 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, the author of the national guard proposal is black.
posted by empath at 2:03 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Roland Martin used to work for CNN, where he was probably best known for wearing a hoodie on air in solidarity with Trayvon Martin. He was also suspended that same sear for an anti-gay Tweet.

So Martin is not really a man with the best judgment, but I think he's proposing this because he sincerely believes it will help black residents of Chicago. Now I imagine he thinks the National Guard will be effective because the president is a black Democrat from Chicago, which is placing more faith in Obama than he really deserves 5.5 years into his presidency. If the president were a Republican, Martin would most likely be against this plan for the same reason the people in this thread are.
posted by riruro at 2:51 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


This is wrong, and something needs to be done now to curtail the anarchy that exists in certain parts of Chicago.

I would also like to see the National Guard put in place in parts of Oakland and Bayview Hunter's Point, in the Bay Area. At some point, something must be done about the violence, because violence - pervasive violence - will prevent all the other good stuff from happening.


If this could work, and evidence says otherwise then it's not parts of these cities the NG needs to go to but rather parts of, if not most of, Wall Street. Hold a gun to the ass wipes who falsely rated stocks and then said their ratings were not at all criminal because they were "free speech". Hold a gun to those who gambled with livelihood of literally millions of people, either directly or indirectly. Hold a gun to those who lobby for deregulation and those who lobby to continue the "war" on drugs.

I wonder how that would go down...
posted by juiceCake at 2:55 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


The US is a real outlier internationally in not having a national police force

In not having just a single one.

Do you have any idea just how many different national police forces the US has?

The FBI
The US Marshall service
DEA
USCIS
ATF
The Coast Guard (a national police Navy ferchrissakes)
The Forest service has one.
BLM has one.
The National Park Service has one.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has one.
and on and on.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that NIH has its own, too. It's an empire-builder's badge of honor to have his own armed service, in the US government.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:30 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Legalize drugs and 90% of these murders go away. The bookies and loan sharks aren't killing each other.
posted by MattD at 4:34 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


Do you have any idea just how many different national police forces the US has?

Here's a list, just in case anyone was curious.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that NIH has its own, too.

It's called the National Institutes of Health Police.

Other fun ones include the Hoover Dam Police, the Amtrak Police (who have their own fully-tooled-up Quick Reaction Force these days; SWAT teams being about as in-style as parachute pants), the Postal Police Force, and my favorite, the NHTSA Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation. No clue on whether they have H&K MP5s and BDUs yet, or if they missed on on the post-9/11 gravy train.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:20 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Here's a list, just in case anyone was curious.

The FBI
The US Marshall service
DEA
USCIS
ATF
The Coast Guard (a national police Navy ferchrissakes)
The Forest service has one.
BLM has one.
The National Park Service has one.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has one.
and on and on.


and they all have swat teams (that usually number about equal to a infantry company 80-120 men) and more ammunition for those weapons than the ENTIRE us army used during the surge in Iraq. In fact it is about as much as the US army used during any given year in WWII (for small arms ammunition anyway).

Just food for thought when discussing a 'national police force'.
posted by bartonlong at 6:36 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


WHO is pushing the lie that violent crime in Chicago is soaring, and what benefits are they getting by doing so?

THIS. An important issue that needs to be addressed.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 8:51 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


As mentioned above there are all kinds of federal law enforcement agencies. The big two parent agencies are the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department

The Department of Homeland Security is a federal police force with national jurisdiction. Here are the agencies that are part of DHS:
  1. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  2. U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  3. Federal Emergency Management Agency
  4. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  5. Transportation Security Administration
  6. U.S. Coast Guard
  7. National Protection and Programs Directorate
  8. U.S. Secret Service
The Justice Department houses the following agencies:
  1. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)
  2. United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) (since 1973)
  3. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  4. Federal Bureau of Investigation Police (FBI Police)
  5. Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
  6. Office of Inspector General (DOJOIG)
  7. United States Marshals Service (USMS)
There's an entire list of all the federal law enforcement agencies (including military ones) here.

I really question the belief that more law enforcement in Chicago is the "answer." As mentioned above, crime rates have been dropping, and we are already the world's leading incarcerator.

Then again, maybe crime rates have dropped despite the worsening economy because we imprison so many people. It could be that the only reason the US isn't like, say, Brazil or the Philippines is because our truly effective security services keep the poor in line.

Despite all the "we love freedom" talk in the US, I would say that we objectively don't. We like talking about it a lot though.
posted by wuwei at 12:00 PM on July 13


The lists of federal law enforcement agencies are orthogonal to the reality that day to day law enforcement in the US is provided entirely by administratively separate local (and sometimes oddly overlapping in jurisdiction) agencies, which is how almost no other country does law enforcement.

It is relevant to the discussion of Chicago because there are few or no formal mechanisms in the US to move best practices from one place to another, to have uniform policies about how to do interrogations or investigations, or to resolve the wild disparities in the use of force or in racial biases between different police forces. I'm not saying having a national police force is better -- just that the issue is relevant, especially when comparing between US jurisdictions or with an overseas example.

(It also means that the only way to do a "surge" in force in Chicago, were such an idea even worth considering, would be to use the national guard, since it's not like you can reassign police officers from New York or Miami to Chicago like you could with a national force.)
posted by Dip Flash at 12:25 PM on July 13


Looking at the numbers gives you a less-than-accurate picture of the situation on the ground. If these 40 year lows in violent crime were static across the board in all Chicago neighborhoods, I too would say "stay the course."

What's happened is that a lot of neighborhoods have been cleaned up significantly, but has pushed a lot of crime into a few much smaller areas. A brief housing boom and ongoing gentrification, in addition to the closing of Cabrini Green and the Robert Taylor Homes, have pushed a lot of (mostly poor, mostly black, some already gang affiliated) into already troubled neighborhoods with already overcrowded under-resourced public schools. The successful actions taken to disrupt the biggest street gangs from the top down, has created a system of violent, disorganized crime. In many neighborhoods on the south and west sides, you don't get to opt - out of joining a gang. In the big-bad 1990s, you could be a neutron (non-affiliated) and if you were a brainy kid or an athlete or just working and supporting a family, that decision was treated with respect (more-or-less). If you are a teenager in many parts of the city, you rep your block. Whether or not you are an active part of your blocks clique, you are a target.

So we've got thousands of kids growing up with PTSD. This is not hyperbole, the increased, inescapable violence is taking a measurable toll on children's brains (citation needed on my part, you're welcome to prove me wrong if I am). If you're living in one of the neighborhoods that hasn't cleaned up since the 90s, your chance of being killed in a shooting increases exponentially, and much more so if you happen to be young, male and black.

A lot of the victims of gun violence are written off as being gang - affiliated and because of the way gangs are "structured" these days, it's hard to say whether they are or not, but a lot of these supposedly gang-affiliated victims are not active members, they aren't drug dealers or foot soldiers, they're just kids from the neighborhood. Lets assume that small children, say under 10 years old, are all "innocent", that the ones who've killed by gun violence are all 100% accidental killings, collateral damage. I don't know if the numbers of children who've been caught in the crossfire is up or down, but they are far more clustered than ever before. They belong to the same families, the same churches, the same schools. These clustered deaths take a toll.

So I'm all for something being done, but that something is not going to come from the National Guard.

And why now? It has nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with Rahm. If he gets reelected there's a good chance we're going to be stuck with him for a long time, and if his plan for dealing with violence is as bad as his plans for fixing the schools (and it sounds like they are) it's going to get a lot worse before it ever gets better.
posted by elr at 5:23 PM on July 15


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