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The Four Furies of Chicago’s Rising Violent Crime: The Chicago Way
By John Kass
May 22, 2022
On the latest edition of The Chicago Way podcast, a question for a desperate city:
Who are the Furies that are busy ripping Chicago apart?
In ancient mythology, there were three. The Furies were angry goddesses born when the blood of Uranus fell upon the Earth. The Greeks called them The Erinyes. The Romans called them the Furies.
They were sisters. One was called Alecto, the goddess of endless anger. Another was Magaera, goddess of unrelenting, jealous rage. Tisiphone was goddess of vengeful destruction.
Chicago, now in the so-called “Summer of Joy,” as violent crime continues to spike, is the city where I was born. It is hurting. It is not some mythic place in a land of mists. It is not on the high, rocky, sunny hills overlooking the Aegean.
Chicago is that once-great city by the lake that is now on the verge of dying from an overdose of uncontrolled, rising violent crime. It is a real place suffering real pain. Some say the city is on life support, which is a polite way of saying it is dying.
And it’s not just Chicago. Violent crime is spiking in urban centers across America, from New York to San Francisco. This is what happens when the law is not enforced. Thugs are emboldened. And all people–black, brown and white–suffer.
In Chicago, every day the violent street gangs claim more innocent lives, in the neighborhoods, downtown, and on Chicago’s expressways where the innocent are shot while driving home from work. Politicians and media talk in terms of “gun violence,” but calling it “gun violence” is a cheap word game designed to let politicians off the hook.
The street gang wars are killing the city. But if politicians and media talked in terms of street gang wars, they’d be expected to do something to the street gangs. Instead, they call it “gun violence,” and push the issue to Washington and use it to organize against the Second Amendment.
But the street gang wars keep taking innocent lives, and in Chicago, every day more and more people avoid the city out of fear. This is not hysterical fear. It is reasonable fear, supported by evidence, from all the murders and shootings in the city, to the violent mobs descending on downtown at night, to the many hundreds of unsolved shootings on the expressways.
And through all this, the furies of Chicago are at work. These are not goddesses or sisters. They are not immortal. But they are ambitious. And quite political.
One seeks to leave a lasting legacy. One wants high office. A third is desperate, trying anything to survive. And a fourth wants to survive, too. He’s a political survivalist, keeping his head down, hoping to collect at least two fat and guaranteed public political pensions.
If you follow Chicago politics carefully, and follow the body counts and the anguish of the people, you know the Four Furies of Chicago:
Toni, Kim and Lori. And Tim. I forgot to mention Tim on the podcast. Tim? I apologize. We must never forget Tim.
Four is also the number of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. But I prefer the Four Furies of Chicago.
Every day brings grim and bloody news from the city of anarchy, violence, and corrupt politics. The mobs take over downtown, the street gangs shoot each other at the iconic landmark at Michigan Avenue called “The Bean” in Millennium Park.
According to a report from CWB Chicago, on Friday night, after the mayor imposed her curfew on Millennium Park there was another shootout, this time between a Cook County Sherriff’s officer acting as a private security guard, and a man who had refused to submit to being wanded for weapons at a security checkpoint.
A security checkpoint? This is how far it has descended. And the tourists flee, downtown kicks in its last spasm. The liberal media and the Democratic left that runs Chicago just wring their hands over the mayor’s curfew for teenagers, wondering if a curfew will save downtown
There aren’t enough police to enforce the mayor’s curfew. The Chicago Police Department is down at least two thousand uniformed cops. Many cops have quit or retired or found new law enforcement jobs in the suburbs where they’re valued, where they’re not thrown under the mayor’s bus. And there aren’t nearly enough officers coming on the job to replace those who’ve gone. The districts are undermanned.
The teenagers who rush downtown in the flash mobs, many or most of them black, can’t very well hang out in neighborhood parks. They’ll die there. The neighborhood parks are Chicago’s true killing fields, where black and brown babies are killed routinely. Their parents don’t want them in the neighborhood parks. Chicago’s parks are not safe.
City Hall worried more about politically problematic statues in the parks–like those of Christopher Columbus and Abraham Lincoln–than it did about keeping the parks safe and providing attractive park programming for young people.
So the teenagers come downtown. The local media wrings its hands. And the national Democrats and national media? They avoid it, as if by design.
Wealthy Chicago, mostly white, influential downtown Chicago understands this. They put their pain away, segregating it out of sight, out of mind, and rush off for their summer homes in Lake Geneva or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or Europe. Anywhere.
But Chicago’s middle class–black, white and brown–who are already being savaged by inflation can’t afford a Lake Geneva mansion. They can’t afford to drive there with gas prices so high.
At least they had downtown and Millennium Park and “the Bean” and the fine restaurants and theater for a weekend. But the troubles have come with the killings in the streets. Who goes downtown now on the weekends? Downtown is where the bodies are hit the ground.
Who do you blame? The federal welfare state that destroyed the black family yet bound those voters to the Democratic Party? Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democratic leader, warned us of this more than 50 years ago? The capitulation of urban government school systems to the teachers’ unions, in shutting down government schools for two years, wreaking havoc with the mental state of the poorest students?
The reasons are endless, the poisonous fruit of Democratic political policy that devastates the communities it pretends to help.
As I write this, the weekend begins in Chicago, the mobs will push to fill Millennium Park where “the Bean” draws the young the way moths are drawn to the flame that will kill them. The weather is warm, and police were investigating another mass shooting. And we’ll see more dead this weekend.
The other day, nine people were shot downtown in one mass shooting, two fatally, outside a Near North Side McDonald’ near Chicago Avenue. Chicago’s hapless mayor calls it an “outrageous act of violence.”
And I think of the Furies.
In a recent episode of The Chicago Way podcast, Jeff Carlin and I spoke with Heather Mac Donald, the fearlessly brilliant public intellectual of the Manhattan Institute and the author of “The War on Cops.” She said that if Chicago doesn’t enforce the law and prosecute crimes, all that lack of enforcement will embolden thugs and release “the furies” upon the city.
They’ve already been released, by the Democratic Party. The same happens in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and other cities where Soros-backed prosecutors don’t prosecute. The are all Democrats.
The Furies of Chicago are hardly ever mentioned all together. And that’s unfortunate, because they deserve to be immortalized, for what Chicago has become. You’ll never see their names together in editorials or in broadcast news commentary from tepid corporate media. But they do have names.
Toni, Kim and Lori. And Tim.
Toni Preckwinkle, president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners and chair of the Cook County Democratic Party has played boss politics to push out judges who follow the law. One example is that she tried to oust Judge Michael Toomin. His sin? Judge Toomin dared appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Preckwinkle’s precious protégé, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, over the oily and botched Jussie Smollett affair.
Preckwinkle is at the forefront of the de-incarceration movement, shrinking the population of the county jail, scoring her political points with her progressive base and allows her to boast about taxpayer savings in the jail budget. But this policy allows for violent criminals charged with crime to go back out onto the streets with Electronic Monitoring bracelets. There are men charged with murder on electronic bracelets, and alleged rapists. And every day it seems there’s another horror story of the Electronic Monitoring program.
It was Preckwinkle who engineered the rise of her protégé, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. But the media never holds Preckwinkle to account. And the bodies hit the floor.
Foxx, the anti-prosecutor, a political creature of Preckwinkle, was Toni’s chief of staff, and political enforcer. These are decent qualifications when it comes to the mosh pit of Chicago’s tribal politics, but they don’t prepare an inexperienced prosecutor to run one of the largest such offices in the country. Foxx isn’t a prosecutor as much as she is a Social Justice Warrior.
F0xx was backed by leftist billionaire George Soros, who helped elect other ultra-progressive prosecutors in districts across the country that, like Cook County, are awash in violent crime spikes and lawlessness. Foxx’s Soros-backed colleagues include Alvin Bragg, New York; Larry Krasner, Philadelphia; George Gascon, Los Angeles, and Chesa Boudin, San Francisco.
And of course, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who endorsed Foxx for re-election. Lightfoot put her name behind Foxx when she knew that was the wrong thing to do for Chicago. That endorsement was another nail in Chicago’s coffin. Lightfoot did it anyway, to serve her political ambitions.
Lightfoot hasn’t defended the Chicago Police Department. Instead, she’s demonized her cops and played to the mob. Chicago police are demoralized, and now she works them past exhaustion, without days off and with their vacations canceled.
They’re undermanned, tired, numb, and some have gone fetal. The police force is overworked, and short by thousands of officers. How can they do their jobs, when they can’t even pursue criminals in squad cars? They can’t.
The last of the Four Furies of Chicago is a man.
Tim Evans is the chief judge of Cook County. Evans is a former Chicago alderman and machine coat holder for his first political boss, the 4th Ward’s Claude Holman. Judge Evans is a publicly personable man. Evans speaks in a reasonable voice and says unreasonable things. In a public appearance at the Union League of Chicago I watched him defend the alleged murderer of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega. The child was another victim of the city’s street gang wars. She was on the street, holding her mother’s hand.
Evans said that teenaged gang killers can’t be fully accountable, because says Evans, a Chicago politician, they lack a fully developed brain, and therefore can’t distinguish between right and wrong.
“While I can’t talk about that particular case (Melissa Ortega’s murder), I’m just talking about the typical 16-year old, he doesn’t have that part of the brain developed that makes it possible for him to distinguish between the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do.”
The sense you get from the Four Furies of Chicago–Preckwinkle, Lightfoot, Foxx, and Evans– is that they must live on a floating planet far above us, where they spout their SJW nonsense to adoring crowds of idiots impervious to bullets and violent crime.
Keith Thornton Jr. lives with the rest of us in the real world. He is the respected Chicago 911 dispatcher who was celebrated for his calm and control in the chaos of the murder of Chicago Police Officer Ella French. And not that this means anything, except to racist Democrats who measure everything by race, but he is black.
He says that unless Lightfoot and Foxx are removed from office, Chicago is finished.
“It’s crazy here in Chicago. It’s done. The city is done,” he said recently on Fox News. “If we don’t get new people within these positions to lead the city, this city is done. We also need to get Kim Foxx out of office right here within in Cook County, it’s crook county with her”
He said that police officers “are doing their jobs and locking them (criminals) up, and they’re right back on the streets the next day.”
Lightfoot, like the fury Tisiphone, has a reputation for vengeance. Does she order a move against the well-known and respected 911 dispatcher? Does she dare?
In Chicago, a once-great city, is not land of myths. Real people are suffering. The neighborhoods are on fire and downtown is falling apart in Lightfoot’s “Summer of Joy.”
The Four Furies don’t want the credit for the violence on the streets. Their mouthpieces will shriek. The Furies can make reasonable arguments as to why they’re not to be held responsible. I’ve heard their reasons and respect their skill with words. And backed by allies in the media, their arguments give them cover. They talk and spin for a living. They’re good talkers. They’re such good talkers.
But to my mind, they own it all.
They’ve put cops on the defensive, they turned over the downtown to the BLM riots, they’ve encouraged some lawyers to make fortunes suing the police and taxpayers while clamping down on judges who enforce the law. They don’t want to put violent offenders behind bars to protect others–particularly minorities–from violent crime. The papers once covered crime and the bond courts religiously. But now? The papers don’t even run mug shots of criminals. They’re woke.
But the website CWB Chicago covers crime the old school way. I don’t know their politics. I don’t care. They’re constantly informing concerned citizens, now running a series of stories about persons charged with killing or shooting–or trying to shoot or kill–others in Chicago while awaiting trial on felony charges.
Last year there were more than 60. This year they’re already up to 19 cases. CWB reports that the alleged crimes of those charged while already awaiting trial on other charges include 40 victims, nine of whom have died.
Each case undermines the rule of law. Each case is violent ripple sending waves through the city and county. Witnesses refuse to come forward. The violent walk the city with their electronic bracelets. Witnesses tremble. Cops see it. Business investors see it. Media sees it, the media isn’t blind, but media ignores all this because corporate legacy media has its own agendas. And angering the Four Furies of Chicago, or their support groups is not on the media agenda.
This is how a great city dies.
This subject of rising violent crime and the Four Chicago Furies is a touchy one. Democrats don’t want it discussed. They don’t want to talk about the Biden White House inflationary policies, or skyrocketing gas prices. They don’t want to discuss Hillary Clinton schemes resurfacing in the Michael Sussmann trial, which exposes the American media as little more than political operatives who carried the false Russia collusion story against the former president to damage him politically. And they definitely do not wish to discuss violent crime in Chicago or any other urban center.
Democrats and their Washington Democratic Media Complex would much rather bark about Republicans as “white supremacists” and scream that conservatives are an existential threat to the republic, anything to change the subject away from what they’ve done in the cities. They can do so because they have allies in corporate legacy media.
But due to Democratic Party policies, and Democrats elected to the office of mayor, state’s attorney, county board president and chief judge, the Democratic city of Chicago is dying. And other large urban areas that have taken this same political path are also dying. Local woke corporate media seems incapable or unwilling to chronicle events that we once called “the news.”
Discussing all this has a cost. And I have the scars to prove it.
When I tried to warn Chicago about the growing lawlessness here and in other towns where Soros-backed prosecutors prevail, the left went into full-blown hysterics. The leftist guild at “the paper” in Chicago– where I’d worked for more than 30 years–falsely defamed me. A media gossip in town carried their water. Their aim? Cancellation.
They lobbied the editor to move my column off Page 2 of “the paper,” where it had been for decades. Some of the neo-Jacobins celebrated joyfully they had “de-platformed” me. Some thought that I would quit. Perhaps some of you thought that I would quit, too and just go away.
But I did not quit. And I would not go away.
I did not abandon you. I would not abandon you. I owe you so much.
So I kept on writing, here where I don’t have to answer to the mob and their Thought Police. Here, I only answer to you.
Please keep telling your friends and family where to find me. Ask them to subscribe and join us on this adventure, as many walk away from woke corporate media. You’re all invited. Join me.
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