Sunday, July 17, 2016

Will it be Chicago, everywhere?


Earlier this year Heather MacDonald wrote:

Violence in Chicago is reaching epidemic proportions. In the first five months of 2016, someone was shot every two and a half hours and someone murdered every 14 hours, for a total of nearly 1,400 nonfatal shooting victims and 240 fatalities. Over Memorial Day weekend, 69 people were shot, nearly one per hour, dwarfing the previous year’s tally of 53 shootings over the same period. The violence is spilling over from the city’s gang-infested South and West Sides into the downtown business district; Lake Shore Drive has seen drive-by shootings and robberies.

The growing mayhem is the result of Chicago police officers’ withdrawal from proactive enforcement, making the city a dramatic example of what I have called the “Ferguson effect.” Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the conceit that American policing is lethally racist has dominated the national airwaves and political discourse, from the White House on down. In response, cops in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities around the country are backing off pedestrian stops and public-order policing; criminals are flourishing in the resulting vacuum. (An early and influential Ferguson-effect denier has now changed his mind: in a June 2016 study for the National Institute of Justice, Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri–St. Louis concedes that the 2015 homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was “real and nearly unprecedented.” “The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” he told the Guardian.)

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel warned in October 2015 that officers were going “fetal,” as shootings in the city skyrocketed. But 2016 has brought an even sharper reduction in proactive enforcement. Devastating failures in Chicago’s leadership after a horrific police shooting and an ill-considered pact between the American Civil Liberties Union and the police are driving that reduction. Residents of Chicago’s high-crime areas are paying the price.

There's more at the link.

The same stimulus, and the responses to it from the authorities, have driven the rise of extremist views in the US black community, particularly 'Black Lives Matter'.  The fact that this movement began with a lie - the "Hands up!  Don't shoot!" mantra - is neither here nor there.  By now it's taken on a life of its own, and truth be damned.  Furthermore, the (entirely justified) reaction against police who were seen as enforcing a blatantly discriminatory and unfair system in Ferguson, MO and some other cities seems to have morphed into a reaction against all police everywhere.  If police respond by 'pulling in their horns' and refusing to go into areas where they're targeted, we can expect a Chicago-like breakdown of law and order in all those areas.

I've been in a country where law and order broke down comprehensively in several major areas, towns and cities for extended periods.  I've been there when police were actively targeted by one side in the violence, and responded by becoming partisan (and very violent) in their response to that side - thereby forfeiting the trust of the entire community, who could no longer be sure that the authorities would be objective in their investigation of crime.  The police attitude could be summed up as "He who is not for us is against us - and we're gonna deal with him accordingly!"  They did, to the tune of dozens, if not hundreds, of lives.

I'm not saying that things will come to that pass throughout the USA.  However, it's increasingly likely that they'll come to that pass in certain cities and urban areas, where emotions are running high, and logic and rational thought are conspicuous by their absence.  Furthermore, certain areas are already effectively 'lawless' in the way they're run.  As a pastor, I've visited inner-city areas in several large US cities where they'd become 'ghettoes' for people of a given race, ethnicity or culture.  The police were generally regarded as outsiders, objects of suspicion and distrust, because they didn't fit in to the prevailing 'street culture' there.  If that attitude spreads, the police are going to have to 'take back the streets' the hard way.  Instead of 'winning hearts and minds', the Green Beret response is more likely to be employed.

Furthermore, more and more ordinary Americans are likely to employ the same response.  If anyone thinks the vastly increased gun ownership statistics since President Obama first took office are not related to racial and ethnic tensions in this country, they're living in cloud cuckoo land.  People are afraid for their security, and taking steps to be able to defend it themselves instead of having to rely on others to do so.  If those people get angry, many of them are now well equipped to do something about it.

Peter

3 comments:

Old NFO said...

And I would add that the WILL do something about it...

Fred said...

Maybe we should start calling it the Obama effect.

DoninSacto1 said...

Judge Dredd is coming. Not good.