West Side political elders condemn looting, warn it could backfire


West Side political elders on Wednesday condemned recent looting — even though they understand the pain behind it — and warned it would only hurt the quest to rebuild impoverished neighborhoods.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis said he feels every bit as much “anger,” “frustration” and “rage” about “what the country has done to my ancestors — to me, to my neighbors to my friends” as the young people who answered a social media call to start looting downtown Chicago, fueled by erroneous reports about a police shooting in Englewood.

But, as his mother always said: “Right is right if nobody is right and wrong is wrong if everybody is wrong.”

“It is wrong to tear down a little struggling business in the heart of the community that I live in where people have spent all of their lifetime trying to figure out a way to make a solid living,” Davis said.

Davis said the struggle “must continue, but it must continue building up, rather than tearing down.”

“I don’t condone that kind of behavior as a tactic because there are things that were burned down and torn down 50 years ago. They are still down. There are vacant lots that were created after the assassination of Dr. [Martin Luther] King. They were vacant then. They’re vacant now,” he said.

The Cosmo Beauty store at 4109 W Madison St. was among the West Side businesses looted on Sunday, May 31, 2020.

The Cosmo Beauty store at 4109 W Madison St. was among the West Side businesses looted in May.
Manny Ramos/Sun-Times

West Side Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) called the first round of looting in late May that spread to South and West Side neighborhoods after downtown was sealed off a “tremendous heartbreak.”

“To relive it again was almost unbearable,” she said.

Mitts acknowledged the need for elder statesmen to listen more to the frustrated young people.

“We have to have some conversation. Problems get out of hand when people are not talking. If we have our youth who feel one way and we are saying that they’re wrong for how they’re feeling, we need to listen to what they’re saying and then we’ll be able to try and work with them,” she said.

But Mitts also is concerned continued looting will destroy the legitimate quest for desperately needed resources in impoverished South and West Side neighborhoods.

“We all are concerned, which is why we all are here now and we’ve been having these conversations. We understand that, if it continues to go down the road we are headed, that we won’t have anything and no one will have anything. And there’s no win there,” Mitts said.

“We can’t continue to tear up the city of Chicago and tear up our neighborhoods. … There’s a right and a wrong and it’s wrong to do wrong.”

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) represents a Near West Side ward that was bustling with new commercial, residential and restaurant development before the stay-at-home shutdown triggered by the coronavirus.

“If people are looting the city, it affects the people who live in that area that’s being looted. But also, it affects the people of the West and the South Side because money comes from a lot of those areas that they are looting,” he said.

During a Zoom news conference, Burnett drove home the point that, “We’re all in this together.”

“We need to … make sure that folks on the West and the South Sides don’t feel disenfranchised because of disinvestment. But at the same time, we need to educate them and make them aware of the fact that we capitalize off of the things that’s happening in the economic developed areas to be able to help us in other communities. When we hurt one of us, we hurt all of us,” he said.

“Some of this is our fault because we haven’t really nurtured and educated our young people in our society to make them understand how things work with government and economics in our city.”


via Chicago Sun-Times

August 12, 2020 at 05:21PM

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