Genocide, Warfare, and Protection

Dave Schuler makes the following observation about violent crime in Chicago:

What there is is more like internecine warfare. I know that some believe that the underlying problem is the War on Drugs but my own view is that the WoD is actually just a small part of a much larger problem which I would summarize as the rule of law does not extend into the black community here in Chicago at least in part because people have lost confidence in the Chicago Police. The homicides that are occurring on a weekly basis are the result of gang initiations and turf battles between rival gangs. The gangs themselves exist to provide protection, support, and something to do under conditions of social and economic disintegration.

My reservation is the extent to which the drug trade throws economics into the mix. That the thing that they are protecting people from, and the importance of their commercial real estate, and the means with which they do the protecting, ties mostly into drugs. Or maybe not! I confess a degree of ignorance. Regardless, it has given me something to think about for my hopefully-someday post on disaffection, crime, education, and inequality.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. It is interesting to compare this to the Whitey Bulgar trial. Whitey Bulgar is not a good man. In fact, he is a very bad one but there are a lot of people who theorize that his neighborhood kept him protected for many years because he kept drugs out.

    Police Corruption is tricky. There are long historical reasons about why certain communities especially minority communities do not trust the police. The Chicago PD is known for a long-history of corruption. There was an episode of This American Life where they interviewed a cop about why he went on the take. At first he tried to refuse and end up getting assigned to the most violent areas and worst shifts/details. This made him change his tune very quickly.

    There are non-corruption reasons about why people don’t trust the cops including the increased militarization of the police. There are lots of stories about this in the media but not much is done about it. Randy Balko has made a career out of reporting these stories.

    My guess is that so-far these ultra-military and SWAT style tactics have largely been used against poor communities without much political power. If you saw them used in Palm Beach, the story might be very different. Or more scarily, the people of Palm Beach would applaud the use of strong arm tactics to make life better in the community. Who knows? But I think the militarization of the police is a problem.

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  2. The lack of trust amongst people of color and low income folks for the police, and by extension, the government, is a real, real problem, on a number of levels.

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