“Austin [Chicago] is the city’s largest community area geographically, and was the most populated for 45 years,” chicagotribune.com reports. “But as the West Side neighborhood’s gun violence has increased, so too has families’ realization that at any moment the shootings can creep into their blocks — even the good blocks. Austin’s residents are leaving, with some saying goodbye to the place they’ve called home their entire lives.”
No surprise there. Question: is the “gun violence” plaguing the Windy City neighborhood the cause of the problem or a symptom?
The Trib article lands firmly on the side of a symptomatic analysis. It chronicles the ‘hood’s death spiral, fingering red lining, rapacious real estate agents, sub-prime mortgages, poverty, the collapse of the housing market and under-resourced schools.
It highlights only one governmental “solution”: the introduction of the much-maligned (in these parts) ShotSpotter gunfire detection system.
The standard answer to Austin and the like: taxpayer investment! As residents who can afford to leave are skipping town, that approach strikes me as nothing more than throwing good money after bad.
Although “gun violence” is a symptom of a dying neighborhood, I reckon it’s the highest of high priorities. The answer starts with drug legalization (as if), armed self-defense, better policing and, most important of all, reforming the judicial system.
Chicago’s revolving door justice system keeps bad guys on the streets. Remove them, give residents’ breathing space, and the neighborhood will heal. Slowly, mind you, and depending on economic circumstances. (If there are no jobs anywhere nearby, the process is doomed.)