To the editors:

It’s a good thing Roberto Rivera is no longer with Chicago Intervention Network if he believes that [although] “the city will never be able officially to recognize groups as groups to bargain with . . . a community organization could recognize a gang’s “turf’ and strike a deal based on that.” It’s been awhile since I’ve encountered such horse manure (actually worse, since even that has its uses). This isn’t “Hill Street Blues”! The issue ought to be: how dare these parasites lay claim to the property of hard-working, honest citizens or the City of Chicago itself? Bargaining with any gang or its members confers a legitimacy they neither deserve nor have earned.

Mr. Cohen’s remark that “short of mass executions, there is nothing the police force can do to solve this problem” is simultaneously defeatist (after all, what can the police do when they haven’t seen a crime committed, and the witnesses who did refuse to give complete information, say where the offenders are, or testify in court?) and misleading (it’s not cops who make decisions to execute, but judges & juries).

“These children are growing up in neighborhoods where all the legitimate roads to success are closed,” not because of “inadequate schooling, chronic unemployment” (both of which have been problems in this country before without the societal decay which is gangs and their admirers), “cutbacks in federally funded programs” (let’s remember people didn’t always look to the government for solutions, but sacrificed, struggled, and helped their neighbors), but especially because of “a rapidly decaying family structure.” Where are the basics with which children once arrived at school–patience, self-control, respect for others, even “mere” manners? Instead, television and street toughs have been allowed to run rampant through young lives, and ten years later, the parents are dumbfounded, throw up their hands, and tell the police “I can’t handle him–take him to the Audy home!”–as if it were even that easy.

And it’s a shame Mike Singleton and his co-workers don’t intervene because they think “strong leadership within the gang generally helps to contain gang violence, because the leaders know it’s easier to sell drugs when their customers aren’t afraid to leave their homes.” What does an attitude like that tell the taxpayers footing the bill for this, that CIN stands for “Call It Nonsense”? No, that the gangs are doing something useful, that their (and CIN’s non-) actions are to be condoned, even lauded, and that all CIN is capable of is insignificant window-dressing, attacking a symptom instead of the fatal flaw.

M. Wiesinger

W. Cornelia