After 131 people were killed in Chicago this year, state lawmakers began proposing that the National Guard should be brought in to police the city. The National Black Police Association has objected to this proposal, which could lead to further brutality and a disenfranchised population.
Still there are many things that can be done to stop urban violence in Chicago and the rest of the country without deploying an Army into Chicago. Politicians, youth advocates and community advocates must all find ways to stop urban crime in both the long term and the short term.
Here are 5 Ways We Can Stop Urban Violence.
1. More Jobs And Summer Jobs For Youth
The old saying “Idle hands are the devil’s tools” directly relates to urban youth and summer jobs. Summer job programs give teenagers work experience and skills, while keeping them off the streets and out of trouble. Teenagers can work as camp counselors, clean up the city, have clerical jobs, work with the elderly or work Green Jobs that will help them have careers in the future. Gangs take place where jobs and schools fail students.
Inner-city youth without summer jobs often wind up dealing with the temptations of the street and wind up joining gangs and participating in criminal activity. Summer jobs will not only help the short term goal of stopping crime this summer, but will also provide young people with the necessary experience and training for adult careers. At a time when many state budgets are being slashed, people must fight to keep programs that keep city youth occupied for the summers.
2. Strengthen Gun Laws
Every year thousands of illegal guns enter urban areas from gun friendly states like Virginia and South Carolina. These guns are the guns that fuel inner city violence. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Boston Mayor, Thomas Menino have recently criticized the White House for not enacting on a report from Mayors Against Illegal Handguns that proposed 40 steps for reducing inner city gun violence. People need to support legislation that will keep guns out of the hands of young people in our inner-cities.
3. Change The Culture Of Violence In Our Cities
While rap music is not the cause of inner city violence, it is not doing anything to stop it. Several popular rappers have been promoting gangs and gang violence. Leaders and journalists in our community as well as conscious rappers must address the problems of gangs in Hip Hop music. Rappers must be taken to task for their words and the affect they have on urban youth. Rappers are one of the few examples of people who have made it out of urban, poverty stricken neighborhoods, so young people from those environments tend to look up to and emulate rappers. Activists must pressure record labels, radio stations, website and TV channels to stop promoting rappers who encourage gangs and gang violence to stop doing so.
4. Strengthen Prison To Work Programs
Every year thousands of inmates are released to from prisons, many for non-violent offenses. Given job policies, ex-convicts have a very tough time finding employment after serving their prison sentence. The prison system is supposed to rehabilitate prisoners, so they can re-enter society, but often it just helps to just submerge prisoners even more into the criminal lifestyle. This leads to a revolving door prison industry, where inmates come out more violent and gang connected than they were when they came in. Prisoners who are given career skills and opportunities are less likely to return to lives of crime and violence than those who haven’t.
5. Change The Drug Laws
By criminalizing drugs, you are inherently giving criminals the control of them. Many incidents of inner city violence come directly from the drug trade. If marijuana were to be legalized, much of the violence over the marijuana trade could be eliminated. If cocaine and heroin addicts were given treatment for their addictions, and others were educated about the realities of the drugs, there would be less demand for the cocaine and heroin and subsequently, less crime.
6. Communicate With Law Enforcement
The Stop Snitching code needs to be abolished, both in the “hood” and in the police department, where the “code of silence” often allows police corruption and brutality to run rabid. Due to police harassment, racial profiling and police brutality, many people in urban areas view the police as the enemy and are reluctant to cooperate with them. This leads to gangs and criminals having free-reign to terrorize people in those neighborhoods. Police groups such as 100 Black Men in Law Enforcement should be used as a bridge between urban communities and the police force. If more people in urban neighborhoods were willing to cooperate with the police, many violent criminals could be apprehended and both police and residents of urban areas would not have to worry so much about violent crime.