CHICAGO — Evil exists.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is right about that.
“Whoever did this, I want to say something,” the mayor said Tuesday. “I believe fundamentally in the goodness of human nature, but there is evil in the world."
Emanuel made it clear he was talking about the unidentified shooter who fatally gunned down 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee the night before in an Auburn Gresham alley.
“Whoever did this, there is a special place for them,” the mayor said.
Hell or someplace like it, I suppose the mayor means — where good people wish we could lock up evil and throw away the key.
“I hope they never see freedom. I hope they never see daylight,” the mayor said about the murderous devil that may still be on the loose. Chicago Police said a "person of interest" turned himself in on Wednesday, but no charges have been filed.
The scariest thing about this evil haunting Chicago might be that “whoever did this” — the embodiment of wickedness, this child killer and dream destroyer being hunted by police — isn’t a dope-dealing, gang-affiliated triggerman at all.
What if the evil in this city doesn’t have a face?
Or worse. What if this evil is a sin of our own creation?
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What if generations of Chicagoans — the majority of voters, the mayors they crowned, the ward bosses who followed orders, the city planners, the policymakers, the red-lining bankers and the conspiring real estate brokers who kept our city segregated, first by ethnicity, then by race and now by economic class, and herded poor descendants of slaves into public housing towers that became killing fields only to tear the towers down and leave entire neighborhoods to suffer in desperation, poverty and hopelessness while rebuilding the city's center into a monument to the rich — helped create the socioeconomic conditions that fostered the evil we blame for the busted morals of Tyshawn’s killer and folks who protect the shooter by keeping silent?
For a lot of people, that’s too terrifying to consider.
Mark Konkol says Chicago violence may be a sin of its own creation:
Maybe it’s easier to focus on the hunt for the shooter —the embodiment of evil — and hope against hope it leads to justice for Tyshawn and, maybe in some small way, redemption for our city.
But we all know that doesn’t happen as often as we’d like.
In parts of Chicago that many people associate with evil, folks live with sad realities that have become clichés: It’s easier to get a gun than groceries, “snitches wind up in ditches” and, in 2013, 70 percent of murders didn’t get solved or result in charges being filed.
We bring those facts up a lot when the victim is a grade school kid or the aspiring 20-year-old model from the suburbs gunned down Monday while visiting her grandparents in Englewood — the deaths of innocents that make headlines and elicit our collective rage and sympathy, at least for a little while.
Anyone who knows “whoever did this,” Mayor Emanuel said about Tyshawn’s killer, has a “moral responsibility” to come forward and cooperate with police.
"This person is not an individual. They're not a human being,” Emanuel said. “Because when you've done what you did to a 9-year-old, there's a place for you, and there's no humanity in that place."
Our mayor is right about that, too.
You can find places best known for savagery in the poverty-stricken pockets of Chicago that generations of city leaders built, tore down, abandoned and left to suffer a slow, merciless death by thousands and thousands of shootings.
Shouldn’t it be our moral responsibility to finally make it our city's top priority to aggressively rebuild parts of Chicago that in some ways our city leaders have had a hand in helping destroy — the sturdy affordable housing, quality schools and middle class jobs that defend against decay and help keep evil at bay?
It’s a shame, but for a lot of people that’s still too terrifying to consider.
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