Editorial: The Year Chicago Died

The Windy City is experiencing a terrifying wave of violence that is being abetted by progressive politicians and their policies.

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Back in 1974 a British pop band called Paper Lace had a big hit with a song titled “The Night Chicago Died”  about an apocalyptic battle between the gangsters of Al Capone’s gang and the Chicago police. The song had no historic truth. As powerful as Capone was, even he wouldn’t declare war on the Chicago police. And compared to today’s Chicago gangsters, Capone was a pussy cat.

Capone was an organized criminal. What Chicago is experiencing today is far from organized. It’s chaotic mayhem that would even make Capone start packing his bags for a safer home.

Over the Independence Day weekend this year at least 100 people were shot in Chicago. That’s not “shot at,” they were all hit. I realize it’s a city with nearly 3 million residents, but that’s insane.

And that weekend was not an anomaly. Last month over the weekend of August 6 through
August 8 at least 75 people were shot in Chicago. Two of them were police officers. One of them died. More about that tragedy in a minute.

Why has Chicago become an American nightmare? There are so many reasons.

Many politicians want to blame access to guns. To that I say I’ve never witnessed a handgun stand up from a table or walk out of a closet and start shooting at everyone. So it’s not the guns. It’s the people pulling the triggers.

Next, the sociologists want to blame COVID-19. The only viable theory I’ve heard for why COVID could possibly lead to a rise in violent crime in Chicago and other cities is that the lockdown made some drug dealers more ambitious, and they started trying to take the turf of their rivals.

But the statistics invalidate that theory. You can blame COVID-19 for a lot of things, but the violence in Chicago predates the virus. The city has been a shooting gallery for more than a decade. There were more than 491 murders in Chicago in 2019, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. That was down from the 579 recorded in 2018, the 670 in 2017 and the nearly 800 recorded in 2016. So don’t blame COVID.

Personally, I believe the bloodbath in Chicago is caused by progressive policies that are leaving violent people on the street when they should be locked up. In this month’s “In My Sights” column titled “They’re Not ‘Criminals’ Anymore,” POLICE contributor and noted law enforcement trainer Dave Smith writes: “Progressive prosecutor Kim Foxx in Cook County (Chicago) dropped charges against 29.9% of felony defendants during her first three years in office, including cases involving murder, shootings, sex crimes, and serious drug offenses.”

Chicago is suffering through nightly orgies of violent crime because the prosecutors are not arguing on behalf of victims and the people—like everyone learned in the opening of “Law & Order”—they are arguing on behalf of the criminals. With prosecutors like Kim Foxx, why do we even need public defenders?

One of the biggest problems with progressives is they don’t believe in holding people responsible for their behavior. They believe that people can change their criminal ways without any motivation to do so. They believe nobody should be imprisoned, nobody should be in jail awaiting trial, and they don’t believe that some people are just plain evil and need to be separated from the rest of us. This idiotic ideology is getting people killed in Chicago and in other American cities.

Last month it certainly played a role in the murder of Chicago officer Ella French and the shooting of her partner Carlos Yanez Jr. who was left paralyzed.

Officer Ella French and Officer Carlos Yanez Jr. were two of the 75 people shot in Chicago over the weekend of August 6 through August 8. On Saturday night August 7, French, Yanez, and another officer were all working in the Inglewood Neighborhood as members of a Community Safety Team. They stopped a vehicle for an expired plate and minutes later, French was dead, Yanez was critically wounded, and the third officer had exchanged fire with and wounded a suspect.

The man accused of killing French and paralyzing Yanez was on probation for a robbery and out on bail for a subsequent hit and run that seriously injured a man. For reasons I can’t understand, the police reportedly did not file felony hit-and-run charges in the case. And since the charge was a misdemeanor, the soon to be accused cop killer was freed. There was a process under way to revoke his probation over the hit-and-run, but it was moving very slowly. It was certainly too slow to save Officer Ella French and Officer Yanez.

All this violent crime caused by the progressive “hug a thug” ideology has Chicago at the breaking point. It is doing more damage to the city than the Great Fire, Capone’s prohibition-era gangsters, and the 1968 Democratic Convention violence combined. Police want to leave. Citizens are terrified. And the tourists are not coming anymore. This may very well be the year Chicago died. And that should be a warning to every other progressive city.

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