This paper deals with gang violence in the city of Chicago since the beginning of time. It takes a deep look into the history of Chicago gangs and how they interact today. Also the past problems the City of Chicago made when dealing with gangs and the problems that gangs today have and how Chicago has the worst gang problem in the country. Also how gangs have turned themselves into big, and lucrative enterprises most known for money. Also stated are possible solutions to stop or reduce violence of the gangs that all start off with teaching the young kids about gangs and gang prevention.
Chicago Gangs, Then and Now with Solutions Jimi Hendrix once said “Every city in the world always has a gang, a street gang, or the so- called outcasts. ” Every city deals with gangs but some cities are worse off than others. Chicago is infamous for gang violence and problems dealing with gangs. For some getting to school in the Chicago land area can even be a matter of life and death because of the gangs and their violent ways (Belluck, 2000). Throughout history gang violence infested the city of Chicago, and it continues to create problems today; hopefully solutions planned by the city can stop the violence.
Race shaped Chicago gang history. “African Americans were crowded into to the south side ‘Black Belt’” (A brief outline of Chicago’s gang history, para 2). As the First World War ended, blacks came back to Chicago and fights broke out to find jobs. The Democratic Party led by Mayor Richard J. Daley decided to keep segregating the city (Brief outline). The blacks were separated by an expressway and an 18 story housing project. Separating races caused violence to sky rocket. The segregated areas proved more nationalistic for their area and defended it to the core.
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Gang leaders were constantly thrown into jail so they had to find ways to keep a lucrative business. The Chicago Police Department declared war on gangs in the 1960’s and the prisons soon became overpopulated (Brief outline). Gangs reorganized and many combined their gangs into one bigger enterprise. Gangs were mostly run from prisons during the 1970’s and on (Brief outline); therefore one could not escape the gangs. Gangs shaped Chicago early on. Gentrification is displacing gangs and causing turf wars. Gentrification and the tearing down of public housing in Chicago left many gangs homeless (Brief outline).
Due to this, gangs battle over land and housing, known as turf wars. The violence rises, along with the number of deaths. Therefore police attempt to limit the gangs, but that also leads to fighting and violence with police. The whole cycle involves violence and is vicious. Chicago has the biggest gang problem in the country (Thomas & Bass, 2009). “There are more gang members per citizen in Chicago than anywhere else in the country” (Thomas, 2009, para 4). The average Chicago gang leader is 43, convicted of murder and lives in the suburbs.
That leader on many occasions directs his gang from jail (Main, 2006) and 95 percent of inmates in the Cook County Jail are gang members (Thomas, 2009). Gangs are everywhere today just like they use to be. The high number of gangs causes violence and deaths to rise in Chicago. “Gangs have morphed from social organizations into full-fledged criminal enterprises” (Thomas, 2009, para 5). Gangs are highly sophisticated and more dangerous then ever. The number one reason to join a gang is money; and 95 percent of gangs profit comes from drug dealing (Thomas, 2009).
Gangs do not worry about others and civilians, but rather money and their respective gang. Dealing with gangs is very dangerous. Even coming into contact with gangs can be dangerous. There are a wide variety of ethnicities and groups of gangs. “Gangs can not be attributed to one ethnic or cultural group” (Decker, 2009, pg 404). The high number of gangs again leads to turf wars because of a need for land and housing. Due to all of this violence police can not stop gangs alone; people must contribute to the effort (Thomas, 2009). Gangs can not be stopped but reducing the violence can be done.
It will require Chicagoans participation and officers doing their job but it will make gangs less apparent in the city. Gang prevention must start with kids. The young people must be taught about gangs and the consequences of them since they are the future. They need to be taught the right way so they will not become involved with gangs and eventually gangs will die out. Schools should offer after school and summer jobs programs in order to get kids off the street after school and learning. Schools also should teach about gangs and offer drug prevention programs (Main, 2006).
Kids are the key to stopping gangs and if taught correctly it can happen. Going after leaders of gangs is beneficial. Superintendent Jody Weis put in an ordinance saying, “That if gangs resort to violence, police will go after their leaders (Tarm, 2010). Gang leaders will be held accountable for all the actions of their members. It is likely that a leader might become infuriated after going to jail so many times for actions of his gang members that he might leave the gang. If this happens a couple of times the gang might diminish or vanish completely. This is one possible way to stop gangs.
Controlling “hot spots” is key in stopping gangs. An ordinance was passed saying that police can arrest suspected members of a gang if they don’t leave and area an officer tells them to (Belluck, 2000). A similar ordinance was passed that allows officers to tell people to remove themselves from an area and to stay eye distance away (Johnson, 2000). This again allows officers to watch “hot spots” and can destroy gangs business in an area causing them to lose money. It also allows gang members to keep being jailed and off of the streets for a period of time so they can not commit crimes or violence.
This will limit gang’s enterprises. Gang violence infests the city of Chicago but solutions can stop the violence. Chicago has the worst gang problem in the country but with the help of police and members of society it can be lowered. Kids must be taught from a young age about gangs and ordinances that make it hard for gangs to conduct business must be passed. Gangs can be stopped but it is no easy task. Chicagoans will have to work very hard but gangs can become lesser of a problem or maybe even obsolete one day.
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