- - Thursday, September 1, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Labor Day weekend in Chicago is not so much celebrated as feared. Americans elsewhere are preparing to spend the end of summer at the beach or around a neighbor’s barbecue bounty, but in Chicago the police are bracing for a weekend of murder and mayhem on steroids. It’s almost tradition. The politicians are working on empty bloviations about offering “thoughts and prayers” for the families of victims, and everyone else in war-zone neighborhoods are hunkering down with genuine prayers that their children will survive the holiday weekend.

The month just ended stands as the most violent August in Chicago in two decades. Seventy-eight Chicagoans died during the 31 days of the month by the gun in irresponsible hands; 491 residents were murdered last year and it’s but certain that the number will be exceeded this year. Gangbangers are running rampant and criminals of all stripes openly defy and threaten the police when they show up.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the liberal’s liberal, and other politicians blame guns bought in nearby Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin, and they naturally prescribe the quack cure of stricter gun control laws. With these nostrums they think they can escape the blame for nurturing the punks, thugs and other deadly riffraff they have ignored for years. If Chicago would enforce laws already on the books, and enable the police to do the job they were hired to do, Chicago would be a far less deadly place.

Horror stories abound, some more heartbreaking than others. Just the other day, Nykea Aldridge, a young mother pushing her baby’s stroller on a street she had every right to be, was caught in the crossfire of two gangbangers doing their worst to kill a man whose looks they didn’t like. The young mother was slain. This has become part of a sad and tragic continuing story in Chicago, but her death received more attention than most because she was the cousin of a superstar of the National Basketball Association.

The police caught her killers, which was unusual enough, but what was not unusual was the fact that neither of them should have been on the street, or with a gun, in the first place. The killers, Darwin and Darren Sorrells, are quite a pair. One had been convicted and sent to prison on gun charges, and released early. The other was free on parole from serving a prison sentence for stealing cars and fleeing from the police. He had six felony arrests on his rap sheet.

Under existing law, both men were breaking their parole and committing a felony just by carrying a gun and hanging out with criminal gangs. Why either of them was on the street was the irresponsible work of someone in an official position, because despite the fact they were violent predators, always on the scout for prey, they had received early release from prison. Early release from prison can be useful, but it is meant only for those who deserve it. Every murder is a tragedy, but this one and hundreds of others in Chicago and elsewhere need never have happened if those in charge of enforcing the law had simply done their jobs. This black life mattered.

The young mother was killed by the evil Sorrells brothers, but her blood is on the hands in a broken criminal justice system that cannot distinguish between the dangerous and those trying to turn their lives around. The blame most of all is laid at the feet of the politicians who seek scapegoats rather than solutions.

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