Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Peacemaking, Local and Global

OK, guys, I started this last week and thought it was even more scattered than usual, but here it is anyway.

Between George Bush talking about Iraq on Monday (June 27), the Senate voting on foreign appropriations on Tuesday, and a shooting two blocks from my house on Tuesday afternoon, I've had a lot of food for thought about peacemaking this week.

Last Thursday around 5:30, the CAPS office sponsored a rally/vigil in the parking lot at the northwest corner of 50th and Hermitage, where a 20 something named Pierre (yes, his real name) took two shots point-blank, one to the head, and died two days earlier. The killing was in revenge for a stabbing that took place earlier that day east of Ashland Avenue, I was told.

Frankly, and sadly, because the young man who got killed was African-American and lived a few blocks away from where his brains spilled all over the pavement, nobody would have done a damn thing about it if the local CAPS liaison hadn't decided the gangbangers need to be put on notice. I think that doesn't make any difference to the gangbangers, but since I gather this police district has been suffering from lack of leadership until very recently, I want the new commander and the old footsoldiers put on notice that they have to respect this neighborhood--neither ignoring requests for help nor assuming every kid on the street is a gangbanger. The only reason I put my shoulder to the wheel on this was to get my face and as many faces of neighbors as possible in front of the commander's very eyes and let him know we're watching him.

The reaction I got from neighbors while passing out flyers for the event was very interesting. A couple of people suggested the young man got what was coming to him for being a gangbanger. A middle-aged man said he doesn't even like to come out in front of his house, it's too dangerous, so he mostly stays inside. Another guy asked me to give some info to the cops about a concern of his because he works nights and his wife watches their four kids, so making a CAPS meeting is hard. A few people thanked me.

The next day, I only recognized two or three other people from my block itself at the rally. Many more came from the 4900 block of Hermitage--we have a good contact there. I was also impressed to note that people came up from south of 51st--I met a lady from 52nd and Paulina. They were people who knew the young man or knew what was going on. It's hard to build connections across 51st--I find it even harder to cross 51st than to cross Ashland.

During the aftermath of the shooting, I started musing about what it would take to do real peacemaking in this neighborhood. Why can't we get some UN conflict resolution going on down here? Of course an underlying question is why can't we get some real economic development going on down here so these guys could quit selling drugs to make fast money? What if we had real economic development in my neighborhood and in Colombia (yeah, the amendment to cut money for the useless Plan Colombia just failed but at least my rep voted the right way) --so the farmers there and the broke young men here could find themselves something else to do? I shouldn't blog, my thoughts are too badly phrased. But you get the idea.

If you want to know more about the Colombian situation, how the fighting may spill into Ecuador, and (if you scroll down), what some activists decided they learned from the unsuccessful fight in the House to cut money for the war on drugs in Colombia, check out this blog, which is smarter than I am: http://ciponline.org/colombia/blog/

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