Former Gang Members and Police Work Together to Reduce Homicides in Chicago Neighborhood (Video)

Image via CBS News

Image via CBS News

While there’s a lot of debate in this country over racism, gun violence, police interaction with African-Americans and how all of this ties together, I really don’t see a whole lot of actual meaningful discussions taking place. Sure, there are plenty of people who are highly vocal about how they feel about these particular issues, but there’s typically something lacking in all of this discourse: Solutions. Mostly what I’m seeing are people reacting emotionally rather than rationally.

As most people are aware, Chicago has a fairly significant problem with gang violence. In fact, homicides are up 21 percent from this point last year. That is, except in one community where they’re actually down 14 percent.

So, what’s being credited with causing this reduction in homicides? Plywood signs the neighborhood put up reading, “Don’t shoot. Kids at play. Let the kids grow up.”

“All you hear is kids laughing and playing,” said neighborhood resident Yvonne Marshall.

The signs went up in late May and residents claim there hasn’t been a single shooting since on the two blocks where the signs are hung.

Former gang members within the community came up with the idea after a meeting with Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy. 

“We introduced them to the concept of group accountability,” said McCarthy.

Essentially, the police can only do so much and when violence breaks out within a community, everyone within that community suffers.

“We were trying to make it a surprise for the neighbors too, and when we put them up they was like unbelievable,'” said Dwan Brown. “We can’t be accountable for what’s happening on any other block but we can be accountable for what happens over here. So what can we do different, the signs.”

It’s amazing what can be accomplished when people stop pointing the finger at one another and try to actually come together to do something about these sorts of issues. Even if it’s something as simple as combining plywood and spray paint to make signs conveying a very simple, but important, message. Every positive step is a step in the right direction, and we need many more positive steps to get to where we need to be on these issues.

Will these sorts of signs work everywhere? Who knows. They seemed to have worked for at least one neighborhood in Chicago, but the elephant in the room is the 21 percent rise in homicides in the city overall compared to this point last year. Either way, the best solution to combating many of these problems – such as the relationship between the police and African-American community as well as every day violence within those communities – is by all sides coming together to find ways to make things better.

The tactic I’m seeing now where people are just going back and forth in endless debates blaming one another isn’t doing anything to help any of these problems. In fact, it’s only dividing us more and making things worse.

Watch the segment below via CBS News:

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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