Tuesday, March 31, 2015

EXTRA: Are gangs a worthy question?

Mayoral hopeful Jesus Garcia got hit with a question during the final debate held Tuesday that I’m sure he thinks was a personal attack – is his son, Samuel, still a member of a street gang?

WTTW-TV news person (and debate moderator) Phil Ponce came up with the question for Garcia, citing Chicago Sun-Times reports indicating his repeated arrests (although Garcia says his son’s criminal record amounts to two misdemeanor convictions).

FOR HIS PART, Mayor Rahm Emanuel quickly came in and said he thought such questions were inappropriate – although I suspect it was less about Emanuel feeling sympathy for Chuy and more about realizing the damage was done by the question. Rahm didn’t need to “pile on,” so to speak.

I actually found part of Garcia’s answer to be intriguing; and could be an issue that people debate for many years – the part where he said the reason he remained devoted to the Little Village neighborhood where he has lived for the bulk of his life is because of the problems caused by gangs.

He said he and his wife are so devoted to making Little Village (and neighboring Pilsen) better that they weren’t going to flee to somewhere else, just because of the gang influence.

Does that make the bulk of us who deliberately seek out places where we can ignore such problems (or pretend that they only exist somewhere else, and never near us) some sort of wimp?

AS THOUGH WE are the cause of the problem refusing to go away because we try to ignore it?

There was one part of Garcia’s answer that comes across as so true – the fact that the gang influence can be so strong that many young people feel they have no choice BUT to pick a side, so to speak.

As though trying to remain above it all merely means that everybody in the community would single them out for abuse – rather than having somebody who might watch their back.

I’m not defending gang life, by any means. But I’m also aware that many of us try to think of it in such an overly simplistic way (“The Warriors” isn’t a documentary by any means) because we really don’t want to have to think about it at all.

SO IS GARCIA nothing more than the father of a “gangbanger” who couldn’t even control his own son, let alone be capable of doing anything to resolve the problem city-wide?

Or is he someone who may have a more realistic view of the problem, and for what it seems has a son who appears to have got away from the gang life (and now works as a chef, according to his father).

It certainly is a more interesting issue than Emanuel’s repeated claims during the debate (the final one prior to Election Day seven days away) that, “I didn’t cause the recession.”

A claim that was barely amusing the first time Rahm said it, yet which he kept getting laughs from the debate audience every time he opened his mouth.


No comments: