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Youth violence, no simple solution

By Starla Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Feb 15, 2013 - 12:59:04 PM

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Phillip Jackson
CHICAGO ( - The deeply entrenched, long-term problem of youth violence in the country’s third most populous city is a complex one that will take a multi-layered, multi-faceted approach to solve. In addition, more police on the streets is not the answer, says Chicago activist Phillip Jackson, executive director of the Black Star Project.

The group along with concerned community leaders and organizations recently held a press conference pointing out not only the failure to address inner city violence head on, but they also offered a four-point plan recommending solutions.

“The police don’t have a clue as to what’s causing this violence,” says Mr. Jackson. The Black Star Project rolled out its Youth Violence Report Card for 2012-2013 giving “failing” grades to parents, families, police agencies, local elected officials, churches, the business community and young people.


Black Parents United, Centers for New Horizons, Black Tiger Mamas and The Monroe Foundation were also present at the Feb. 5 press conference, which took place just days before the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old girl gunned down not far from the Kenwood area home of President Barack Obama on the city’s Southside. The press conference also included a bell ringing ceremony, memorializing the 108 youth victims of gun violence in 2012.

Reliance on university academia to provide insight and solutions into urban youth violence is also a failed strategy, says Mr. Jackson. Groups and organizations best equipped and qualified to offer solutions to stop the problem are often not invited to the leadership table to share their guidance or it is outright ignored, charge critics.

Mr. Jackson questioned why leaders such as Minister Farrakhan are not brought to the table to share their expertise.

“When the city of Chicago wants to know how to stop youth violence, guess where they go? To the University of Chicago. Wait a minute, what does the University of Chicago know about stopping youth violence?” asked Mr. Jackson.

According to reports, of the 513 people killed in Chicago in 2012, 108 were age 19 or younger. There were 42 homicides in January 2013, the highest rate since 2002.

Key solutions to reduce these alarming trends presented by the coalition of groups include:

·Rebuild the Black family.

·Provide strong, positive, mentors and role models for children in violence-plagued communities.

·Provide a globally competitive education for children in violence-plagued communities.

·Provide positive economic alternatives to selling drugs, burglary, robbery and other illegal economic activities that drive violence.

Each solution must be addressed simultaneously, says Mr. Jackson.

“This is a complex, compound problem. We’re treating it like it’s a simple problem. If it were a simple problem then the mayor would be right. He would say, I’m going to put more police out there and that’s going to fix it and he’d be right,” he added, referring to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Mr. Emanuel along with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy have held several press conferences as the violence continues, assigning blame to “guns and gangs.”

Continued investment in after school programs, tougher gun prosecutions and gun laws, better policing and better tactics are a few of the items Mr. Emanuel says he and Mr. McCarthy have discussed. However, even the mayor admits it is “not just a policing issue.” Nevertheless, an additional 200 cops are being reassigned from desk duty and deployed to the streets Mr. McCarthy announced at the end of January.

America gets what America wants and will spend the necessary resources to accomplish its goals, says Mr. Jackson.

“When we wanted Saddam Hussein, we sent airplanes, tanks and soldiers and we were spending a billion dollars a day in Iraq. Why? Because we wanted Saddam Hussein. When we wanted bin Laden we sent drones and we started a war in Afghanistan and spent another billion dollars a day. So I’m clear, that when America wants something, they pay for it and they go get it. So if America wanted to help these young, Black men, they’d pay for it and they’d do it. They don’t want to,” says Mr. Jackson.