Things That Matter

Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot Has Overseen A Huge Drop In The City’s Violent Crime Right And This Is Why

Chicago, Illinois, is one of the mayor American cities that faces big challenges when it comes to fighting violent crime. Historically, the city has been renowned for the role that organized crime has had on politics and also because deep social inequality often leads to marginalization. Even though the city experiences high levels of criminality that need to be tackled, there are some promising signs as 2020 begins. And the newly elected mayor Lori Lightfoot might have a lot to do with it, and has some thoughts on why the city has experienced a double-digit fall on violent crime indexes. 

Lori Lightfoot, a queer Black woman, has had a great inaugural year in office.

Credit: Chicago Tonight / WTTW

Lightfoot is part of an important shift in local governments that has seen the number of female incumbents increase more than ever before. As NFINCE reported in its end of year recap of good things that happened in 2019, “with the April election of Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, a record number of black women (eight) served as mayors in the 100 largest cities in the United States.”

Lightfoot has been strong from day one, making masterful political moves such as firing a senior police officer that many had not dared to touch. As the Chicago Sun Times reports: “… she fired the retiring police superintendent she had celebrated one month earlier after accusing Eddie Johnson “lying” to her and to the public about the circumstances surrounding an embarrassing drinking-and-driving incident in mid-October. From a practical standpoint, Lightfoot’s decision simply means Johnson is gone a month earlier than the Dec. 31 retirement date he announced in October. But, from a political standpoint, it’s a sea change”. So yes, while in power she has made sure that the establishment knows that she has the upper hand. 

While cities like Baltimore experienced a spike in crime during 2019, Chicago’s went down by up to 10%!

As the non for profit The Crime Report points out: “Crime in Chicago is down. Though it hasn’t returned to 2014 levels, compared to late November of last year, reported crimes are down by 10 percent. That decrease is driven partly by significant declines in property crime. Violent crime has fallen by 11 percent”. This is great news for the Windy City, which has often been singled out by Republicans as evidence of Democrat failure in government. Let’s not forget that mamy Obama aides and Obama himself learnt to do politics in the tough Chicago scene and the city is a somewhat safe Democratic bastion.

In a televised interview, Lightfoot outlined what she thinks are the reasons behind this positive drop in violent crimes.

Credit: CNN / YouTube

The Chicago Mayor told CNN that one of the reasons for the drop is the alignment of the different government departments in the city to guarantee public safety. But above all, she stated, was the work with what she called “community partners” while being “on the ground”. This is a very similar approach that the Obama-school of Chicago politics advocates for. She also credits the support that the city government has been giving to victims of crime. Lightfoot also singled out the use of complex technology that alerts police when there is a shooting so they can act faster. Technology is being deployed in the most violent areas of the city. There is a constant flow of information that can be sent to the field to track cars, victims and shooters. 

But there is still a lot to do and the situation in Chicago remains less than ideal, so come structural changes are being put in motion.

Credit: WBEZ

As The Crime Report sums up: “Chicago is on track to record fewer than 500 homicides this year, a 35 percent decrease from 2016. Even if Chicago returned to its 2014 murder rate, that would still be three times higher than the national rate”. There are other challenges faced by the Chicago police, such as the low number of solved homicides in the city. 

One of the most significant changes to law enforcement structures enacted in 2019 was a considerable increase in the number of detectives in the city. As the Associated Press reports, the Chicago Police Department “is beefing up its detective ranks and spreading them around the city in the hope that it can catch up to departments in other major cities that solve a far higher percentage of homicide and other violent crime cases”. Authorities are optimistic about this change, as the AP further reports: “Police officials said will get detectives to crime scenes more quickly and give them a better chance of finding witnesses to interview” and “the move will foster public trust in communities, particularly those with high crime rates , and will allow residents to regularly see the same detectives”.

Violent crimes are down, yes, but other offenses that affect communities are up, as reported by The Wall Street Journal: “A rise in carjacking across Chicago has spooked residents even as police celebrate a drop in violent crimes such as shootings and homicides”. So there is still a lot of work to do. 

Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Are The Women Fighting To Find The Stolen Children During The Argentine Dictatorship

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Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Are The Women Fighting To Find The Stolen Children During The Argentine Dictatorship

Sundance Institute

During the 1970s a group of desperate Argentinian mothers began protesting government officials and holding them accountable for the human rights violations that had been committed in the military junta  known as the Dirty War. The determined women violated the government’s law against mass assembly and risked the ire of Argentina’s military dictatorship to expose the government’s human rights violations. The biggest part of their fight however had been to expose the kidnapping of over 30,000 individuals known today as “Desaparecidos” or “the disappeared.”

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (or, the Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo) is a movement of Argentine mothers who campaigned to find out what happened to their children who had “disappeared” during the 1976 government takeover.

The mothers’ tragic stories began in 1976. At the time the Argentine military had toppled the presidency of Isabel Perón. According to History.com, “it was part of a larger series of political coups called Operation Condor, a campaign sponsored and supported by the United States.” The new military dictatorship resulted in the Dirty War, which was ultimately a fight against the Argentinian people. It opened doors to a period of state-sponsored torture and terrorism and saw the government turn against Argentina’s citizens, targeting those suspected of being aligned with leftist, socialist or social justice. As part of the rule of terror, the government kidnapped and killed an estimated 30,000 people. They also made great efforts to cover up the dead and missing people.

But the family members and friends of the missing victims fought for the truth.

The mothers and relatives of people who went missing during the war searched for their loved ones and began to stage protests at the Plaza de Mayo in the 1980s. 

According to History.com “Some of the mothers of the disappeared were grandmothers who had seen their daughters whisked away and presumably killed and their grandchildren given away to other families. Even after the Dirty War ended in 1983, the Grandmothers of the Plaza Mayo have searched for answers and worked to identify children who grew up without any knowledge of their true parents.”

Today the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo have verified the identities of 128 stolen children, thanks to DNA identification techniques but the fight of these mothers and grandmothers lives on. Sadly, thousands of Argentinian children remain missing.

The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo is a 1985 Argentine documentary film that highlights the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

At the time of its release, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and in 2013, received an update on “Abuelas: Grandmothers on a Mission” which highlights the work of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina.

The Police’s Reaction To The Black Lives Matter Protests For George Floyd Vs. Anti-Quarantine Demonstrators Says A Lot

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The Police’s Reaction To The Black Lives Matter Protests For George Floyd Vs. Anti-Quarantine Demonstrators Says A Lot

Stephen Maturen / Stringer

Derek Chauvin (a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department) pinned George Floyd to the ground by kneeling on his neck for seven minutes.

For the first three minutes of being restrained Floyd (a 46-year-old Black man) pled for his life begging Chauvin to remove his knee because he couldn’t breathe. After four minutes Floyd stopped moving, and bystanders capturing video of the request determined that he was unresponsive. The aftermath of his death after sparked explosive protests and reminders, yet again, that Black people are not safe in this country and continue to. be subjected to inequality.

On Tuesday morning, video of the incident that took place on a sidewalk in Minneapolis surfaced online fueling anger and protests.

There’s so much in the video that is distressing, but hearing Floyd begging the officer to let up and repeating “I can’t breathe” is only a small part that has once fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. After all, we’ve heard those words before. In 2014, Eric Garner, uttered the same ones while dying under police brutality in New York.

At the time of his death, Floyd had been facing arrest. The officers involved in the incident had been called to the scene due to a “forgery in progress” in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. Note, forgery while a serious crime is a non-violent one.

Darnella Frazier is the woman who captured the video on her phone and posted the footage on Facebook for the world to see.

On Tuesday, May 26, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced that the officers involved had been placed on leave. Later on in the day, four responding officers were fired and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the incident was being reviewed.

Reactions to the protests show another glaring reminder of the treatment of Black people in the United States vs. white.

Reactions to anti-mask protests and demonstrations against government stay-at-home orders in the past few weeks have been met with stoic reactions.

You’ve seen the images. In the face of demonstrators furious about the safety restrictions implemented to combat COVID-19, police officers and government officials have responded primarily with nonviolence. We’ve seen no stun grenades or tear gas.

But the crowds of Black protestors rallying for “Justice for George” have been met with riot gear and chemical agents. According to reports around 8:00 pm of the protests police in riot gear fired sandbag rounds, rubber bullets, and pepper spray.

Once again, Black people are being forced to fight for their lives while non-Black people of color get off easy while saying or doing little from the sidelines.