Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mary Mitchell writes more about the mayhem in Chatham

The column is aptly titled "We can't arrest our way out of this". It's a follow-up to Tuesday's column entitled "CHA link to Chatham mayhem?" The column was excerpted here that same day and generated so far 20 comments!!!
You don't think of a police station as being welcoming. But the modern Gresham District police station at 78th and Halsted is probably as close as it gets to being a place where troubled citizens in Chatham can comfortably turn for support.

Gresham District Cmdr. Eddie Johnson is no stranger to Chatham.

As a patrolman, he worked in the area from 1988 to 1998.

At that time, there was "very little crime'' in Chatham, he recalls.

When he came back to the district in 2008 as the top brass, the community had undergone a "metamorphosis."

"I've seen the 6th District go from a district full of middle-class working black families to a lot of transients,'' Johnson noted.

"The obvious reason the crime kicked up is the prevalence of gangs,'' he said.

He wouldn't speculate on where these gangs came from.

"I don't know. I just know we have a severe gang problem. The gangs have really manifested themselves throughout the entire district."
Read the rest of the column to see more about Cmdr. Johnson's comments with regards to the wave of crime in Chatham. He discusses some statistics and the more sociological problems with some of the gangmembers he deals with in his job.

I will leave you with the column's conclusion:
Chatham always has been known as a solidly, middle-class African-American community where residents take great pride in their homes and neighborhood.

Many of these residents were the black professionals -- the lawyers, teachers and city employees who stayed in their community and served as positive role models for younger families.

The fact that the gang plague is now invading a community that has such a rich history of activism is appalling.

With the second-highest population of senior citizens of any neighborhood in the city, Chatham cannot be left alone to wage this new battle.

And, how can any black person justify getting offended when brazen whites say they don't want to live around blacks -- if black people themselves let thugs destroy a Chatham?

Ending the dominance of gangs is a matter of black pride.
I've got one solution. Chatham should once again be home to the black professionals. How do we bring them back to live in this community? What can we do to keep thugs from destroying Chatham?

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