Monday, November 9, 2015

What should we think about Tyshawn? Is this really a 'family-based'' crime?

Even by the standards of urban violence where logic is lacking and randomness is all too common, the death last week of Tyshawn Lee reeks of stupidity.

Tyshawn is the 9-year-old whose shooting death on Nov. 2 in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood (also the home base of Michael Pfleger, the priest some people want to dismiss as just a loudmouth, even though he has a tendency to speak the ugly truth) has gained national attention because police believe it is a gang-related killing.

NOT THAT TYSHAWN is regarded as a gang member or someone being used by the gangs to do their illegal bidding. But it seems that Tyshawn’s father IS considered to be a gang member who had managed to offend the sensibilities of another gang.

So to gain their sense of retribution against dear ol’ dad, the rival gang took it out on the kid.

Various news reports say Tyshawn was lured into an alley near Damen Avenue at 80th Street, then was viciously gunned down.

This isn’t the usual case of a kid being killed in gang activity because he (or she) happened to get caught up in the crossfire, or got hit by a stray bullet. Instead, he was targeted.

THE OLD SENSIBILITY that somehow, some people on the periphery of gang activity are safe from its violence has gone out the window. Then again, that same sensibility died with regards to organized crime so long ago.

Why should these circumstances be any different?

Although what catches my attention is the idea that people aren’t all that offended by a child’s death.

In fact, there are those who seem determined to want to use this incident as a way of blaming inner-city residents for their own conditions. As though somehow they bring it upon themselves just by being themselves. Which I want to dismiss as nonsense.

THERE ARE THOSE people who seem to want to play ideological games with the Chicago homicide rate – perhaps so they can avoid having to think about coming up with ways to reduce all the bloodshed that we are seeing in Chicago.

I have read many anonymous Internet rants along the line of how the locals don’t care that a kid was killed. They aren’t doing much to help the police, we’re being told.

There also is a sense of the “don’t snitch” mentality that runs through certain neighborhoods where the local police presence is perceived as interfering with the protection of the general public.

So the fact that some people aren’t eager to “rat out” which local gang members may have actually done this particular shooting isn’t shocking. Maybe there are some who think the appropriate sense of justice is for the “dad” to take the law into his own hands.

NOT THAT I’M touting the vigilante mentality. If anything, that is too much like the dreamy vision that those conservative ideologues would tout – the “wild West” where everybody packs a pistol and “deals” with their own problems.

We have a mess in segments of our society when there are people who have no faith in our institutions to offer them protection. Instead of blaming the people for having no faith, perhaps we ought to try to figure out how we can encourage those people to think that society at-large cares about them in the least.

Then, perhaps we’d get people willing to rise up in anger and take legitimate action to deal with those people who think a 9-year-old vicious shooting is somehow justified retaliation against a father.

Who in all likelihood was not anybody whose actions toward his son were ever going to win him a “Father of the Year” award!


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