Covering the WestSide as it is today and Challenging everyone to become involve as we move into the future.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Weis Met With The Wrong Gangleaders
Like a lot of people, the headlines and stories in the newspapers and on the TV news sounded impressive. Police Superintendant Jodie Weis tells gang leaders they will be held responsible for the mayhem their members are creating on the streets. But once past the headlines and given the opportunity to learn more about the meeting, my initial impression has quickly fizzled to hysterical laughter. You see, if I could have instructed Weis on convening a meeting with gang leaders, it is not the ones on the streets that I would have had sitting in a room. It’s the ones currently in jail who he should have spoken with.
Why? Because the message to inmates will quickly resonate amongst the criminal elements on the street. The message is quite simple. Kill someone on the streets and upon your arrival in jail, there will be someone waiting to kill you. Point blank. Jail and prison will no longer offer you a safe haven amongst your ilk.
Now in ordinary times, it is “unconscionable” for those in the position of leadership and law enforcement to send out that kind of message. But these are not ordinary times and thus extraordinary measures are needed. Because one of the underlying positions that our young people have taken is that they are not scared to go to jail. In truth, going to jail is seen by some of them as a badge of honor. But if one doesn’t make it out of the prison system alive to tell about it, then the message on the streets will be glaring. Going to jail will be akin to signing their own death sentence.
The first thing out of Weis’ mouth should have been that the prison industrial complex (yeah he should call it just what the activist have labeled it) is no longer concerned about the safety of inmates. If you are a 4-corner-hustler, we are going to house you with the members of the Mexican Mafia. If you are a Latin King, we’re going to house you with the Gangster Disciples. If you’re black, we’re going to put you in the same cell as the Skinheads. If you’re white, we’re practicing integration and putting you in the cell with the blacks. And if any of this leads to your losing your life, a limb or two or becoming someone’s girlfriend while in jail—oh well, you shouldn’t have been involved in that mess to begin with.
Now initially the murders won’t stop overnight. But then again, no new program will immediately stop the mayhem. But as the word gets out on the street that Pookie got 20 years for murder and he’s now in prison in Idaho where blacks can be counted on one hand, the message will slowly but surely resonate. Or let’s outsource our prisoners to jails in Mexico and other third world nations where water is a privilege and food not laden with bugs a rarity.
A second piece of the discussion Weis should have had is to have gone on television and announced that heads of households will now be responsible for the actions of everyone living under their roofs. So if you are the girlfriend and “yo’ man” is shooting up folks, when he goes to jail you’ll be going with him. If “yo’ baby” or “grandbaby” is committing heinous acts while bloodsucking off of you by living under your roof, you’ll share a cell with him or her. I could go on, but I’m sure you folks get my drift. Only when we take harsh actions can the message get out to those that normally don’t listen.
Now after reading this column, I hope you all know that I’m just being cynical. But there is a sliver of truth to what I’ve written. And that truth is that very few of our criminals when caught can maintain that bravado that they had on the streets. Yet far too often, their breakdown is not a subject for public discourse. When we make it such, the message will resonate louder than any public service announcement.
I was inspired to write this column after reading an article regarding 17-yr-old India Spellman from Philadelphia. She along with an accomplice is alleged to be responsible for the vicious murder of an 87-yr-old vet in his front yard. Her mug shot with one tear running down her face and her eyes reflecting deep thought for possibly the first time in her life needs the following caption; “I’m accused of a crime and now I’m finally scared cause I just realized my butt is on the line.”
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Arlene Jones' Biography
I was born in Chicago. I grew up in Cabrini Green. I attended Wells Sr High, the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle where I majored in Spanish and minored in Education. I have a diploma in Computer Programming.
I moved to Austin when I purchased a home here. I have two children.
I have been active in the community since moving here. I started with my blockclub. In the early 1990s, I worked with several people to try and form the North Austin Homeowners Association. I even went on patrol with a group of people who had a walkie talkie car patrol of the neighborhood.
As with most programs in the AA community, many factors led to the demise of those groups. Lack of support from elected officials was at the top of the list.
There were several people who had a group and we met out of DaVinci Manor. DaVinci Manor was at the corner of North Ave and Central where Walgreen now stands. Again there was very little interest in saving that building and our community lost a beautiful hall.
I have protested the state of the Central Ave bridge. I worked with Leola Spann and did many a smoke out including one in the 1500 block of North Lorel where drug paraphenalia layed on the ground. I have over the years here in Austin worked with the following groups at one point or another:
Northeast Austin Organization (Mary Volpe, Tom Hosea);
Northwest Austin Council;
Brotherhood of Black Men;
Westside Health Authority;
Every Block A Village;
25th District Housing Committee;
African American Employees at the Merchandise Mart (AAEMM);
Lafollette Park Advisory Council;
Garfield Park Conservatory Advisory Council;
Westside Executive Advisory Council;
Austin Landmark Cultural Center;
Concerned Citizens of East Garfield Park
and so many others that it gets hard to remember.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. -- Malcolm X