INTERNET SOURCE: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-tyshawn-lee-chicago-murder-edit-1120-20151119-story.html
Chicago children keep being murdered, and politicians keep moving on
November 19, 2015
Photographs of Tyshawn Lee are on display at his visitation at Haven of Rest church in the South Chicago neighborhood Nov. 9, 2015.
“Sunrise January 23, 2006. Sunset November 02, 2015."
— Embroidered in red on the white interior of Tyshawn Lee's child casket
"Tyshawn, you my friend. I am going to miss you. You will always be my friend. See you later. Hope you like your ball. Bye, friend."
— Inscribed with a black marker on the basketball that former classmate Demetrius Alexander brought to St. Sabina Catholic Church the day of Tyshawn's funeral
Chicago politicians are pretty much over Tyshawn Lee. No disrespect intended. But he's almost three weeks dead, the gunshot holes to his temples now sealed with mortician's wax and caressed smooth. He is attired for eternity in a double-breasted white tuxedo and red bow tie. White gloves, too. A red flower rests atop his stilled heart.
It's not the roiling criminal saga of Tyshawn Lee's death that's over. Police detectives keep working this latest Chicago case to provoke awestruck news coverage nationwide. A 9-year-old boy? Executed in some alley? Collateral damage in a gang feud? Really?
Hard to be sure just yet. If and when the police lay out their theory of what occurred and file charges, yes, Tyshawn will again be very big news. But only for a while. Then, unless this case is startlingly different, the Chicago pols will move on.
Some Chicagoans never get to move on, of course. The many people consigned to live on streets terrorized by gangbangers have to put up with perpetual gunplay. They pray that their children, their grandchildren, don't fall to some weapons-crime felon who did a customarily brief sentence and now roams free. They pray that someone stops the next shooter with a score to settle before he tucks another child into a coffin.
We understand why other Chicagoans' adrenalized horror over someone murdering a little boy can fade with time. No one should feel guilty that emotions come and go. People don't even mourn their own family members forever. When a youngster dies this way, Chicagoans are outraged, they're discouraged, they move on. The next time a child is slaughtered here, all those Chicagoans will be just as outraged, just as discouraged. But if they're fortunate enough to live on safe streets, they'll move on from that youngster, too. Again, no disrespect intended.
State legislators and aldermen shouldn't move on. Yet they always do:
•In the weeks since someone killed Tyshawn, how many Chicago state senators and representatives have you heard pledging to toughen Illinois' light sentences for gun offenders? Two years ago, the legislators' power play blocked a mildly stronger gun-sentences bill that united Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the National Rifle Association as odd-couple supporters. We don't know if that legislation would have protected Tyshawn. We do know that by keeping shooters off the streets longer, and maybe deterring some gun crimes, it would make Chicago safer. Yet Chicago's lawmakers, legislative leaders included, do nothing.
•In the same three weeks, how many of Chicago's aldermen have you heard leading new initiatives for the fed-up citizens in their wards? Initiatives encouraging neighbors to get past their fears and tell the police who traffics guns, who did the killing, who ran from the scene. To help parents learn whether beat cops and tactical officers see their children hanging with gang members.
Nah, you don't hear that. When a Tyshawn Lee hits the ground and the front pages, most pols shrewdly lie low and hope nobody notices. They're fringe players, irrelevant, and comfortable in that bit role. They show up for wakes. But, quick now, when is the last time you heard one of them own the chronic violence in his or her district? In his or her ward?
True, the aldermen do get antsy when, in any given month, the city's homicide toll drifts above whatever the horrific but evidently tolerable level was last year. They call news conferences to blame mayors or police superintendents for the killings of the aldermen's constituents. They're expert at denying that they have any responsibility to take direct actions that could coalesce their constituents and make them safer. That's the cops' job.
Against that practiced Chicago inertia, a case like Tyshawn's doesn't have a prayer of outing derelict public officials. The pols figure they must be doing something right. Voters keep electing them but never demand action from them to confront the ritual slaughter.
The politicians are very busy. But we hope they read Tribune reporter Peter Nickeas' story about the undertakers, the barber and others who lovingly prepared Tyshawn Lee for burial. Ask your legislators, your alderman, if they've read it. You too: www.chicagotribune.com/tyshawn.
The pols will move on. Tyshawn Lee's lyrical name joins the list of massacred young Chicagoans — Dantrell Davis, Chastity Turner, Blair Holt, Hadiya Pendleton ...
The crisis isn't that Chicagoans won't stay focused on any one case.
The crisis is that Chicago legislators and aldermen don't feel threatened enough — by violent crime or public fury — to pass the laws and launch the initiatives that would deliver solutions.
It's easiest for Chicago politicians to loudly denounce violence, as children like Tyshawn Lee keep getting added to the list.