Thursday, February 9, 2012

Paranoia Strikes Deep in the Heartland

Do you think this could be a gang-related  Rorschach test? Jody Weis, President of the Chicago Crime Commission, looked deeply into the Chicago 15 year olds' design for an official  sticker and what did he see?  Why of course, the  Maniac Latin Disciples!  How stupid of me.  I see it now: gang "forks".....  well sort of hands pointed upward and the fingers might be bent.....  Be still. Weis, the city's #1 Gangbuster  told us authoritatively “It’s very, very close to a gang sign..... It’s not exactly, but it’s very close.’’ He added with great seriousness: “It’s too close to be a coincidence.’’

But Jody, you also pointed out ominously that the "heart" was also a Maniac Latin Disciple sign.  Now this IS scary.  I have heard rumors— unsubstantiated I admit —  that the Chicago Crime Commission is going to call for the abolition of Valentines' Day!  Care to comment?  Don't you think the display of the so-called "heart" on Februrary 14  is "too close to be coincidence?"  

I wonder if Weis will also call for an investigation of Rahm Emanuel?  You know the mayor who fired him for giving the appearance of talking to gang members.  Look at this picture. Isn't Rahm "too close" to this gang sign sticker for it to be coincidence?  Take my word for it, this is not a good way, Jody, to reclaim your credibility.

Now, Chicago isn't the only place where paranoia about gangs runs wild. But in the words of Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets: "Go peddle crazy somewhere else, we're all full up here." One example of this has been a steady dose of "crazy" about gangs and the Arizona State University logo.   According to Sgt Epich of the Chicago Gangs Crimes Unit their logo is a replica of gang forks.  "It bothers me that, one, this gang will be wearing ASU gear, but also that ASU and Nike were so naive to develop it. In my mind  it's (gang forks..jmh)  the spitting image of the S.D. trident."  Will the Crime Commission call for a ban on ASU playing basketball gangs in Chicago or demand the arrest anyone wearing this logo? Should we worry about who King Neptune really was?

But let's add a note of seriousness to a thoroughly ridiculous story. One reason why Jody Weis is so concerned about gangs can be seen in the pages of the Chicago Crime Commission's newly released 2012 edition of the Gang Book.  For Weis, along with CPD Superintendent McCarthy, wants to elevate gangs to Public Enemy #1.  They both want their claim to fame to be the "eradication" of Chicago gangs. Good luck.  What is most likely to happen is their war will keep hostility between black and Latino youth and the police high and keep our jails,  prisons, and Temporary Juvenile Detention Center over capacity. And the gangs will shift with police pressure from one corner to another and grow in strength behind bars. Weis and McCarthy will be long gone and our institutionalized gangs will still be here.

The Gang Book claims there are maybe more than 100,000 gang members in Chicago.   Gangs, it says,  are the new "organized crime." Well, there are a few big time gangsters within the street gangs. The violence around the drug business is no laughing matter.  But take a gander just one column to the right of the Sun Times story of "Jody and the Stickers." There you find  a piece about a real gangster,   Cicero Outfit boss Michael "The Large Guy" Sarno who got 25 years for bombings, robberies, and serial mayhem. Ever since 1969, when Richard J. Daley and States Attorney Edward J. Hanrahan declared "war" on gangs, the attention of the CPD has been focused away from the Outfit and toward minority youth.  Only the feds ever seem to indict mafia guys. 

Looking at the Gang Book, we have to ask "what is missing?"  The new, improved Gang Book shows picture after picture of gang chiefs but there are no pictures of Jon Burge, the CPD Commander who ran his own gang who tortured at least 135 black male gang members for decades. Nor any pictures of those who knew about this horrific violation of human rights and did nothing, or protected Burge. Those pictures would include every police Superintendent right up to Weis and one very prominent former Mayor.  Nor is there a single word in the Gang Book about the Outfit and absolutely no mention of the culture of corruption within the CPD.  I wonder if it is a coincidence that Outfit bosses and Chicago machine pols have been such pals over the years while there have been almost no local prosecutions of the Outfit?  The Crime Commission's Gang Book would have us pretend Chicago is a world of good vs. evil, a fantasy world where police do no wrong and politicians are honest. That ain't Chicago.

So let's conclude with our own Rorschach test, this one from Vermont. It seems that prison inmates there designed a state logo for Vermont police departments. No gang signs, surely,  but look closely at the shapes on the cow. Probably not a coincidence either.