Last week, two trials began in Chicago in a horrifying case that’s become emblematic of the city’s problems with gang-related crime.
Dwight Doty and Corey Morgan — two alleged members of a faction of the Black P Stones gang known as the Bang Gang/Terror Dome — are accused of executing a 9-year-old boy whose father belonged to a rival gang.
Also last week, the Chicago Sun-Times published a story on one way Chicago is trying to stop the violence in the city.
I guess you could call it “broken trees policing.”
Taken together, the two stories demonstrate the depth of the mess in the Windy City, where officials are responding to a grave moral crisis in part by applying governmental Band-Aids.
First, the trials of Doty and Morgan.
According to Fox News, prosecutors claim the two men murdered a fourth-grader in an execution-style manner in the South Side of Chicago back in November 2015.
“Tyshawn Lee, 9, was in his school uniform when three men approached him in the South Side of Chicago in November 2015, prosecutors said during opening statements,” Fox reported.
“Prosecutors said Corey Morgan and Kevin Edwards kept watch while Dwight Doty lured the fourth grader into an alleyway. They said he promised him a juice box.”
Doty then allegedly shot the child with a .40 caliber weapon.
The two men, who are being tried separately, are blaming each other for the crime.
“That execution of that 9-year-old boy has to come from one singularly evil person,” Morgan’s attorney, Thomas Breen, said to jurors.
“Not from a plan. His killer did so of his own volition and for his own reason. Not at the behest or help of Corey Morgan.”
Doty’s lawyer, meanwhile, claimed that Morgan had a motive for the crime.
Tyshawn Lee’s father, Pierre Stokes, was a member of a faction of the Gangster Disciples known as the Killa Ward. That faction was allegedly responsible for a shooting the month prior which had killed Morgan’s brother and wounded his mother.
The circle of violence in Chicago hardly began or ended with the execution of a 9-year-old boy, mind you.
“The two gangs have been locked in an escalating gang war that could be responsible for up to 15 shootings dating back to 2011, authorities said. Months after the child’s execution, his father allegedly sought revenge by shooting three people, including Morgan’s girlfriend, outside a gas station,” Fox reported. “He is being held without bail.”
Both Doty and Morgan’s trials began on Tuesday. On Friday, meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times ran its piece on a beautification project that Chicago thinks will help reduce shootings.
“Last spring, a Chicago woman emailed her alderman, complaining about litter on vacant, city-owned land near her South Shore home,” the outlet reported.
“The appearance of the mess, she said, had coincided with an increase in loitering outside the restaurant next door, where four men had been shot to death two years earlier.”
“Early the next morning, a van dropped off a cleanup crew to clear the lot at East 75th Street and South Coles Avenue. The men worked for Safer Foundation, a nonprofit that helps ex-offenders and other job-seekers get back on their feet,” the Sun-Times said.
“The workers scooped empty beer cans, cigarette butts and other detritus into plastic bags and tossed them into a garbage truck. They cleaned the sidewalk and trimmed trees whose branches hung low.”
Gotta get those branches trimmed, after all: “We wouldn’t want people to get hit in the eye walking by,” Al Jacoby, the director of transitional employment for the Safer Foundation, told the newspaper, apparently in all seriousness.
Safer Foundation is one of the groups that’s part of what the Sun-Times called “an innovative effort in Chicago to reduce gun violence by beautifying public spaces where shootings are most likely to occur.”
“City leaders have boosted spending on sprucing up streets, vacant lots and public transportation lines, putting Chicago at the forefront of a movement to harness neighborhood beautification initiatives as a prescription for the violence that has cauterized daily life,” the report noted.
“This year, Chicago directed $7.4 million to workforce-development programs that put high-risk individuals to work greening areas in neighborhoods with high rates of shootings.”
I’m not implying that Chicago’s beautification efforts are mutually exclusive to solving gang violence through other, more traditional means of law enforcement. All that being said, $7.4 million dedicated to tree-trimming and other similar deterrents is $7.4 million that could also have been spent elsewhere.
So far this year, gun violence in Chicago is down, but that’s not saying a whole lot. As of early August, 300 people had been murdered in the city and 1,600 wounded, according to the Chicago Tribune.
That report came after an especially violent weekend in which seven people were killed and 55 wounded in a series of shootings.
“As it has done repeatedly, the department blamed the burst of weekend violence on the availability of guns and what it sees as inadequate punishment for people arrested on weapons charges,” the Tribune reported.
“On Monday, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson unveiled a streamlined way for the public to track felony gun cases through the court system.”
Yes, between “a streamlined way for the public to track felony gun cases through the court system” and trimmed trees which won’t hit people in the eye, Chicago seems to be willing to do everything to solve gang-related violence except anything that will actually work.
It’s worth noting that beautification efforts to stop crime — when part of a wider effort to stop violence — aren’t necessarily unsuccessful.
When Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York City in the 1990s, he and then-Police Commissioner William Bratton made the “broken windows” model of policing a major part of their strategy for reducing crime in Gotham, and they were wildly successful.
However, the other part of the broken windows policing model is taking a hard line on the law.
But this is part of the difference between liberals and conservatives: the latter realizes how blame won’t solve anything. Responsibility will.
Liberals believe that if you just do a bit of yard work in violent neighborhoods, man’s angelic nature will emerge.
They don’t want to do the heavy lifting that broken windows policing requires.
Until they do that, all trimming trees will accomplish is beautifying the landscape in a city where 9-year-old boys are executed.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.