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We're not helpless against city crime

OPINION

(Brian Cassella/Chicago…)
July 17, 2012|By Grant Yanney, For RedEye

Fair warning: I got a brand new iPhone last month, and if any joker even looks at me wrong on the Green Line, I'm pressing charges. I'm not about to become the latest statistic in my own city.

Of course, I'm not planning to whip out a $400 device all willy-nilly without paying attention, but it's rough out there—reports of more robberies on the CTA, summer mob attacks downtown ... and worse. Not that I need to tell anyone who's lived here more than a month. Here's one startling indicator: Chicago surpassed 250 homicides for the year faster than it had since 2003, according to RedEye and police data.

I know I'm not alone when I say I'm tired of cowardly individuals terrorizing the citizens in my own city—both in the long-suffering neighborhoods and in communities you don't normally associate with violent crime. We have to do something to save these lost souls in Chicago—and we can.

I'm certainly no expert in these matters, but I was born and raised on the South Side, the city's homicide hub. I've spent time working with underprivileged youth, and I understand some of the root problems.

So what can we, the people, do about it? More than you may think. Just a few humble thoughts, off the top of my dome:

>>Cut any "no-snitch" talk out of our vocabularies. As a community, we've got to stop empowering destructive—and sometimes deadly—behavior. If we see something on the CTA or elsewhere, we need to speak up. That's not the message we're used to hearing from pop culture, but it's either that or risk becoming the next victim.

>>Invest in the youth. Many of them are misled and in need of more role models and positive outlets for their energy. Some of these troublemaking kids have nothing to do. Let's lobby our city, state and federal representatives to get more funds to strengthen important social service agencies and build more facilities in at-risk areas. Centers such as the YMCA helped keep me out of trouble as a youth. (Shouts to YBA basketball and the Jackie Robinson youth baseball league.)

>>Support the police. Big ups to all Chicago law enforcement, CeaseFire, Guardian Angels and other groups who courageously lead by example. That's some serious work. Rahm, I'm certain the officers could use more backup in these streets. Let's make that happen. But you don't have to be a cop to help out; you can join a block club or attend a local CAPS meeting. 

Of course, if it were as easy as simply implementing my three suggestion grooves, Chicago would be virtually crime free. And it's not even close to that easy. I know that.

But we can put some of the misguided pride aside. It's OK to look out for one another, to take back our city from the people who do nothing for it. We can write letters to our leaders, reminding them what's going on in these wards. Encourage more positive conversations among our peers. And help increase accountability and raise awareness.

It can get better. It will get better.

Grant Yanney is a RedEye special contributor.

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