emorynichols | Chicago Reader

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Re: “Anatomy of a heroin ring

So now what?
Dumke has written an extensively reported article (very well done, BTW) on the events leading up to the incarceration of a major player and his associates in the city's drug trade. But he ends the article citing another example of violence in the same neighborhoods brought about by the same bullshit; and ending that leaves the reader wondering, "So what was accomplished?" Or at least that's what I was wondering. Seems a lot of the others who have commented on this article have been wondering the same thing.

So what comes next? Drug traffickers are taken off the streets, but the streets are still there, the ethos of those fucked-over impoverished disenfranchised communities is still there, and thus drug traffickers are replaced by new drug traffickers and the violent illicit system sustains itself. Eliminating gang members doesn't necessarily eliminate the gangs. Displacing gang members (i.e. to prison) only slows their work, it doesn't stop it. They still operate via correspondence. An increased police presence in these neighborhoods typically makes many of the residents more on edge and resentful of the police (big assumption there, bear with me, the only sociology course I ever took was religiously watching The Wire).

The cynic in me wants to say fuck it, that that's just the way it is and the way it always will be, but no, that just doesn't seem right. Social structures can change. It's just that this business, this whole drug/gang warring business has so deeply rooted itself into the culture of poor folks that it'll take more than extensive arrests to deracinate it.

So then what it is that will bring about the change? I mean, the police work is necessary (and this is coming from someone who typically isn't too fond of cops) and effective to a certain degree, but is by no means adequate on its own. What more needs to happen in order to end what's going on in these neighborhoods so darkly saturated by drugs, violence, and gangs?

Every 'character' Dumke introduces in his article who're on the complicit end of the drug spectrum is said to have been born into that lifestyle: fatherless, extant caretakers either too addicted or too unequipped to raise them. Where else do they have to turn for support? Perhaps the school system, or maybe a church, but more often it's the gangs who are there to raise them, albeit with a heavy hand, but a heavy one is better than no hand whatsoever.

This comment is longer than I want it to be, and I don't know that I have a conclusion. I guess my point is that police activity is one thing, but is by no means enough. Social structures need to be reconfigured. Poor folk need to given, hell, maybe they need to be pushed into a different direction. But goddammit that's frustrating and assumes that it's okay for someone to say they know what's better for someone else and then for them to force that other person to act in accordance with what that first person thinks is better for them.
Ugh. It's frustrating. really goddam frustrating. I was getting more and more frustrated while reading this article and even more so now that I'm trying to articulate some points about it.
Paradigm shifts.

Are the people who live in those neighborhoods and who are dangerously exposed to the violence content with their lives? If not, why don't they change? Why are gang members gang members? Is it because they know nothing else, and that this society, this fucking sometimes great but SO GODDAM flawed country engenders people, especially poor people, to think that their life can never be anything other than what it is?

The police work is necessary, but not enough. I think that ultimately, what's continuing the patterns of gang-warfare and drug violence is how deep a rift there is in the varying social classes. Until a greater balance is brought to the socioeconomic inequity in society, this violent illicit system will continue to sustain itself despite the efforts of the law enforcement.
How to bring about the balance, however, I don't know. Maybe a massively publicized execution of the Koch Brothers. Umm, just kidding lol I guess.

10 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by emorynichols on 02/16/2013 at 12:08 AM

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