CHICAGO (CBS) — Gang murders in Chicago are on the rise.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is feeling the heat, and says he’s doing something about it, but his latest strategy is drawing some heat of its own from a group dedicated to preventing gang violence.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports on the conflict between the mayor’s office and CeaseFire, a group that uses so-called “interrupters” – who are often convicted felons – to mediate gang conflicts.
After 10 people were slain and more than 40 wounded in various shootings over the Memorial Day weekend, police said they planned to work with CeaseFire and give the group city funding for the first time to assist in the city’s violence reduction strategies.
But Tio Hardiman, director of CeaseFire Illinois, is wondering how effective one arm of the city’s anti-violence strategy will be to stop gang retaliation.
The mayor said he has no such doubts.
Rev. Johnny Miller, pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church, said the gang problem in his West Side neighborhood is so bad, at a recent funeral for a victim of gang violence, he delivered a message to those attending the service:
“Some of you that are in here will be funeralized before the week is gone,” Miller said. “Instead of just one of them, I had three other funerals. I think it was on a Tuesday, the first one, and by Saturday, three other persons had been killed.”
Miller stood behind Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy Tuesday to support their latest efforts to curb gang violence – centered around targeting gangs that might retaliate for the shootings of their members, and in some cases arresting members of that gang for unrelated offenses, such as failure to pay child support.
“We have got to get ourselves onto a proactive footing,” Emanuel said.
But Hardiman questioned that approach.
“You cannot arrest your way out of this problem,” he said. “The thing is, you arrest 200 guys today, another 200 guys are released next week.”
Hardiman said, in a city with the largest gang population, there’s always someone willing to pick up a gun, aiming for revenge.
But on Wednesday, Emanuel stood by his strategy.
“If I can, through interdiction, stop … a shooting, or a homicide – based on retribution – and save both that individual’s life, and also the effect that is has on a community, that’s a shooting worth interdicting for,” Emanuel said.
In fairness, Emanuel does have a broad approach to gangs, beyond the interdiction tactic. It includes bringing in CeaseFire to help mediate gang disputes.
For example, when a gang member is shot, CeaseFire often sends its “interrupters” to the hospital to convince the victim’s fellow gang members not to pick up a gun and go after the person or gang responsible for the shooting.