By Hank Beckman -
“In a segregated city, race determines safety. That’s unacceptable.”
So notes the April 11 staff editorial of The Philadelphia Inquirer in a piece that reads less like an Op/Ed from a serious newspaper and more like a heated proclamation from a group of college sophomores after an all-night bull session in the dorm.
The writers offer as proof of segregation’s detrimental effect on safety the results of a Pew Charitable Trust poll.
“The percentage of Black and Hispanic Philadelphians who feel unsafe in their neighborhoods is double the number of whites,” it reads. (Note the capitalization of the races of people of color, while leaving whites lower case; subtle)
It goes on to quote the poll showing a significant disparity between whites and blacks and hispanics in how much the respective communities feared gun violence and thought it was a major problem in their neighborhoods.
There’s also some history thrown in; the Kerner Commission of 1968 gets some notice, with it’s famous warning about America becoming “two societies,” the apparent failure of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, and the sad fact that we remain largely segregated, causing both the crime problem and the perceptions about crime.
“This disparity is only possible because Philadelphians of different races don’t share the same neighborhoods—despite more than a half a century of lip-service to integration as the policy of the United States,” the editorial concludes.
And according to the Inquirer, that’s all one needs to know to fully understand the problem. It does argue for the need for better schools, more libraries, and more recreational facilities—but offer no data to back up their assertions.
The entire argument ultimately rests on one simple premise—when different races live largely in different neighborhoods, there will naturally be higher levels of violence in the communities populated by black and brown people.
Conspicuously absent from the discussion in any mention of exactly what is causing this elevated level of violence. Or what particular “root causes” prompted the two races to behave more violently from whites; unless you count the bit about schools, libraries, and recreational facilities, which seems highly unlikely.
And God forbid they should make an even passing reference as to which demographics are responsible for all this violence.
Accepting the Inquirer’s conclusion as fact, that the relative safety of city neighborhoods depends on high levels of residential integration—the Civilizing White Man—one might conclude that there was something magical about white culture that caused the relatively low rates of violence in predominantly white areas.
Another inference might be that there was something inherent in the culture of black and brown people that caused higher rates of violent crime.
But still, no hint of the cause, other than the absent white people.
Could it be lower rates of two-family homes? Welfare dependency? Drug and alcohol abuse? The Ferguson effect resulting in police pulling back their efforts because of the Soros-funded prosecutors and their famously soft-on-crime policies?
Could police abuse be the reason? Or some other form of white racism causing the carnage?
None of these possibilities are even considered, and in the hyper-racial age in which we live, don’t expect the progressives at the Inquirer to dare pose any such uncomfortable questions.
But obviously, something has caused increased street crime in recent years. The progressive prosecutors in power in large cities around the country in recent years are prime suspects.
The number of incidents throughout the country involving criminals reoffending after being given lenient bail—or no effective bail at all—is a disgrace that one can see in local news reports or a basic internet search of the subject.
Last month I recorded a shoplifting incident for the local police blotter of a suspect arrested around noon in Western Springs. Later, I spotted the same miscreant on the La Grange Police blotter for attempting the five-finger discount the very same day.
Different town, different Walgreen’s—same perp. Not a major crime, to be sure, although we’ve seen reports of the increased violence of shoplifters in recent years. But it’s indicative of the direction we are headed when a criminal can commit a crime at noon and be released to commit the same crime later in the day.
Worse are progressive polices regarding hardcore predators.
In the Chicago area, CWB Chicago (crime in Wrigleyville and Boystown), an online site dedicated to informing the public about crime along the lakefront, does important work. A regular feature of its reporting includes the growing number of violent offenders reoffending after being given insufficient bail.
A December 18, 2021 post by CWB Chicago reports on the 60th person arrested by Chicago Police and accused of “killing, trying to kill, or shooting someone in Chicago this year” while free and awaiting trial for another felony.
Whatever the reform needed to the bail system in Chicago turns out to be, it’s clear that whatever prosecutors and courts are doing now needs to change.
But reforming the policies regarding lax bail for violent criminals in some cases completely misses the point.
In October of 2021, two rival gangs engaged in a shootout in the Austin neighborhood on the city’s West Side, only ending the violence when the Chicago Police arrived on the scene.
Although one gang member was killed and two others wounded, no charges were filed at the time because of a lack of evidence to provide the burden of proof to file felony charges, according to a state’s attorney spokesperson.
But a Chicago Police report indicated that the real reason for declining to file charges was that the shootout involved “mutual combatants,” a claim which Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx vehemently denied when charges were finally filed against one man in February 2022.
Thomas Dean, 20, was charged with two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, a Class X felony, and held without bail. But he was on the street for about four months, and at least seven other of the mutual combatants remain free and we can assume a serious danger to the community.
This for a scene where police recovered 70 spent shell casings and took part in a fight so vicious that a police source called it like something out of “the Wild West.”
Actually, if no one else is indicted, the shootout in Austin might actually be worse than the Old West, in terms of justice falling short.
When Wyatt Earp, his brothers, and Doc Holliday took part in the famous shootout at the OK Corral, the gruesome results exceeded the carnage that took place on the West Side last October. Billy Clanton, and Frank and Tom McLaury lost their lives; Morgan and Virgil Earp were wounded, with Doc only grazed by a bullet.
But at least the Earps and Doc Holliday were arrested and put on trial for murder, although the facts of the case determined them to be not guilty. Say this for the Old West, the authorities in Tombstone made an honest attempt to discover the facts in a legal setting and settle the case in a manner consistent with justice in a civilized society.
So reform the bail laws, and vote all the woke prosecutors and state’s attorneys out of office; I’m all for it.
But tightening up bail laws won’t accomplish anything if we don’t charge violent criminals in the first place.