* One of the reasons why I haven’t posted any candidate statements on Chicago’s violent weekend is that most of them were just empty finger-pointing. Rex Huppke’s new column takes aim at several folks on this very topic, including JB Pritzker…
I’d like to ask each and every Illinois politician and political candidate scrambling to condemn this past weekend’s outbreak of gun violence in Chicago to please shut up.
All of you. Please. You’re flapping your gums and pointing fingers and tossing out useless bromides and generally making nuisances of yourselves.
Take Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker, who on Tuesday saw fit to leverage Chicago’s insanely violent weekend — 74 shot, 12 killed — to go after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, blaming the governor for the shootings. Pritzker said funding cuts to social service programs under Rauner’s watch have led to an uptick in gun violence across Illinois.
Please explain to me, Mr. Pritzker, how that’s helpful right now? I’m one of the last people anyone would expect to stand up for Rauner, and I agree that properly funded social service programs are a key to stemming violence in Chicago and elsewhere, but what good does a transparently political jab like that do in this moment?
I’ll answer that: None.
Rauner’s campaign called Pritzker’s comment “shameful,” and I agree. Unless your mouth is able to utter some sensible, well-thought-out, comprehensive solutions to a problem that has plagued Chicago for decades — a problem no politician or political candidate past or present has seen fit to properly address — then silence is your best option.
* But, to be fair, Pritzker and his running mate did do more than just point fingers…
Pritzker said “violence interruption on the streets” is probably the quickest way to address the gun issue in Chicago. “These are all things that can be deployed if the state will have funds available and make funds available for those. Those are things that can happen this weekend, next weekend and should happen on a consistent basis,” he said. […]
“In terms of this specific weekend, it’s nothing that’s just going to be a Band-Aid approach where you can say, ‘OK. Let’s just do something, just kind of, you know, address an issue really quickly,’ ” Stratton said. “We have to make sure there’s investment and that requires a long-term vision for these communities.”
* And connecting the impasse to the violence spike is not a new thing…
In 2013 and 2014, the years before Rauner took office, the number of homicides in Chicago dropped to levels not seen since the 1960s with 420 and 415 killings in those years respectively. In 2015, Rauner’s first year as governor and the first six months of the budget impasse, the number of homicides grew to 468 before surging to 750 in 2016 — a level that had not been seen in two decades.
In 2017, there were about 650 homicides. Through the first half of this year, Chicago was on pace for a double-digit drop in the number of homicides compared to last year but still on track to far outpace the numbers in 2013 and 2014, statistics compiled by the Chicago Tribune showed.
But is it causation or correlation? According to the Tribune, Pritzker said yesterday the violence spike was “almost concurrent with the defunding.” He also said the defunding of human service progrms “has led to this problem.” And he said that when those programs are defunded, budgets are vetoed and violence interruption programs aren’t prioritized, “then gun violence will increase.”
Fair or unfair hit?
…Adding… To clarify, I meant was the hit on Pritzker fair, but I suppose we could expand this to mean was Pritzker’s hit on Rauner also fair or unfair.
…Adding… From October of 2013…
The city of Chicago has cut funding for a model anti-violence program, deciding to focus instead on community policing and other strategies to combat the city’s high murder rate.
The program, CeaseFire, sends former gang members into targeted neighborhoods to defuse conflicts before they erupt into violence. FRONTLINE featured some of the CeaseFire operators earlier this year in The Interrupters, tracking their efforts to intervene in gang violence, stopping revenge shootings and curbing fights.
Plenty of blame to go around here.