Chicago is a city that I care deeply about! It has been the place that I have called home the longest. It is the place that gave birth to and raised the love of my life. As a former Chicago Public School Teacher and the leader of an arts organization I do not believe that “sending the FEDs” is the solution to our challenge with violence. Additionally, my husband ran for City Council in 2011 because we love the city. We lost by a narrow margin and many of the ideas below were a part of our platform. We continue to be engaged with community and work frequently with elected officials and community leaders to advance a collective agenda that addresses our challenges.
The relationship between community and police (citywide) is not in the best shape. Sending more law enforcement may further that distance. I also believe that there are other things that can be done to get at the root of the problem.
Chicago has had the highest rate of African American unemployment for the last 2 years. 47% of Chicagoans African American males are not in school or not employed. We need to have a more proactive approach at addressing the root causes that LEAD to violence. Committing an act of violence happens for a variety of reasons not being able to communicate or express ones frustrations or emotions (which are skills that have to be taught), not feeling a sense of purpose or promise, the feeling of not being respected, being taught that violence solves problems, and I could go on and on.
I don’t individually have the capacity to singlehandedly address our challenges but I do not that this issue will require a multi-pronged set of solutions and none of the solutions are mutually exclusive.
I couldn’t sleep, after thinking about the possibility of the FEDs being sent to Chicago, so here are some ideas, 31 of them, that could help to decrease crime. I will continue to do what I can via Donda’s House and the work we do with developing, supporting and training young creatives, and I encourage others to keep doing the work until we can lower the crime rate.
31 Things That Can Be Done In Lieu of Sending the Feds to Chicago
1. Invest in more social workers and counselors in Chicago’s schools.
2. Invest in more therapists, case managers & counselors in After School Programs.
3. Recruit more detectives as of 70% of murders in Chicago go unsolved. If someone commits a murder, they are likely to remain free.
4. Attract more businesses on the South & West Sides of Chicago, with an agreement to hire people that live within a certain mile radius.
5. Support small business development and entrepreneurship programs in Chicago.
6. Establish scholarships at Chicago Universities for students from high crime neighborhoods to pursue degrees with a 4 – 5 year residency in that community requirement.
7. Offer more programming outside of sports and recreation in high crime neighborhoods.
8. Encourage the development and sustainability of block clubs.
9. Host regional block club conferences, so neighbors can share best practices.
10. Expand the CAPs program to include paid youth liaisons, who can work with law enforcement to foster better community relations.
11. Host a neighborhood Exchange program so that Chicagoans can see, experience & trade ideas on community improvement.
12. Start a “Nonprofit Organization” resource center so that folks who are committed to positive social change can connect with space sponsors, funders and other resources.
13. Increase media coverage (especially regional and national news) for non-violent stories & stories that highlight the good that is happening in the city (this is also something that citizens can be encouraged to do).
14. Encourage more people to become mentors in the many mentoring organizations that exist.
15. Invest in the urban agriculture programs.
16. Add more grocery stores to the South and West Sides.
17. Invest in more trade schools and programs (plumbing, electrical, etc.) that offer short term programs that lead to certification.
18. Support the development of Year Round employment opportunities.
19. Offer some type of free transportation voucher in high crime neighborhoods so that youth can travel to jobs & enrichment programs, where transportation is often a barrier.
20. Provide more support to those who are transitioning out. Incentivize success in some way.
21. Offer micro-loans for those who were once incarcerated, to decrease the likelihood of returning to prison due to being unable to find employment.
22. Go on a Listening tour to hear from individuals on the ground who have had proven success with youth & operations in high-crime areas
23. Support more life-skills training through faith and community based organizations.
24. Offer an incentive for churches to collaborate on programming initiatives for non-members in communities that they reside in.
25. Work with the philanthropic community to identify orgs to support that have a proximity to high crime areas.
26. Institute city-wide conflict resolution training that is engaging and age-appropriate in High Schools.
27. Support art therapy and unique approaches to therapeutic delivery.
28. Create a Chicago Youth Council with representation from every neighborhood in the city. This body could brainstorm and implement solutions. Youth are very capable and should be involved more in addressing the city’s issues! This also creates a pipeline for Civic Leadership.
29. Host an annual “Chicago Works” day where Chicagoans can bring a youth from a high crime neighborhood to shadow them for the day. You don’t know what you don’t know and you can’t be what you haven’t seen!
30. Get academia involved! We have so many historians and researchers who have been studying the city for decades! They can tell us what has worked in the past, what hasn’t worked so that we can be data-informed about the violence.
31. Vehicles are more regulated than guns. We should know what happens to a gun from the time it is made to the time it shoots bullets. Guns that are stolen, transferred to other owners, etc. should be more regulated. There are too many unregistered guns on the street & if you own a weapon you should be required to keep the government or law enforcement informed about that weapon or be held accountable for the crime it commits. I’m not saying if your gun is stolen, and someone commits a crime you should be held accountable. I’m saying if your gun was stolen and you did not report it, you should be accountable. If my car is involved in an accident, my insurance company holds me accountable. Gun owners (and sellers) should be more accountable.
Also check out my husband’s response which is published in Crain’s here.