The Killings Can Be Stopped

Published May 1, 2003

An April 29, 2003, editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times, “Where’s the outrage over violence against our kids?” spoke volumes about the lack of basic priorities of black leadership in Chicago.

I know it was only a coincidence that this editorial ran on the same day Rev. Jesse Jackson’s column, “Silicon Valley Can Rise Again,” appeared in the Sun-Times and was placed next to it. But the irony, I must say, is still there. There is a wide gulf between the Sun-Times’ editorial raising the question of the future life span of Chicago’s black youth and the “Silicon Valley” concern.

At the national level, the NAACP seems to have no better idea to address this problem than to sue the gun manufacturers. We don’t shoot the cow because someone let the milk spoil and kids had to drink it. In other words, the problem this time is as much in the community as it is at city hall.

How many more kids must die like hogs, to use poet Claude Mc Kay’s words, before there is total concern from Chicago’s black leadership? While I mentioned the name of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, that’s not where I am putting all the blame. No one has elected or appointed him to be concerned about anybody’s kids except his own. There are three elected congressmen, as well as state and city elected officials, who represent the wards where drugs and killings have reached the terrorist level almost on a weekly basis.

Have we forgotten seven-year-old Dantrell Davis, who was killed by a sniper’s bullet on his way to school a decade ago? Black politicians then were also silent. Only Conrad Worrill, South Side professor and community activist, said what needed to be said: “What the Mayor needs to do is come up with a comprehensive program that deals with the social ills of the people who live in public housing that produces these kinds of behaviors.”

I suspect that if the head of the Chicago police department was white there would be a march on the Mayor’s office to get rid of him. Of course the Mayor shares some responsibility, but does the black community have to wait for the Mayor to call a press conference and say “black on black youth crime has gone too far?”

There are also concerned local Chicago residents who cannot attract national or local media attention to such senseless killings. Former educator and businessman Ed Gardner put his money where his mouth was over the past two decades, but has not had much success.

There will be temporary additional media attention, somebody will come up with another community program with some funds, and 30 days or 60 days from now the killing rage will be on again with no attention from community leaders who claim they speak for the poor. But just for the record, the killings can be stopped. To see ideas on how this can happen go to

Lee H. Walker is president of The New Coalition at The Heartland Institute.

For further information contact Heartland Public Affairs Director Greg Lackner at 312/377-4000, 773-489-6447, email [email protected].