Five Reasons Commissioner Boykins’ Call to Charge Gang Bangers as Domestic Terrorists is Wrong

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Last weekend, in Chicago 12 people were murdered and 43 others wounded. Unfortunately, it’s another scene in the tragic story of violence in the Black community where distrust of each other, the police and proper government intervention is at an all time high. And to add insult to injury, a Cook County Commissioner is calling for drastic and ill-advised measures to go after hard core gang members.

“They’re terrorists trying to destabilize communities and we ought to charge them with domestic terrorism,” said Cook County Commissioner Richard R. Boykin, 1st District of Forest Park yesterday during a press conference.

Commissioner Boykin promoted this view during a 10 a.m. press conference yesterday on the 5th Floor of the County Building during the unveiling a collage of victims of gun violence since January 1, 2015—a memorial of the more than 600 people shot since January 1, 2015 and 140 killed in Chicago.

Boykin who was joined by gun violence victims and eyewitnesses to murders, said the overwhelming majority of victims memorialized in the collage are either Black or Hispanic. The collage will be for those killed since January 1, 2015 and will remain on display near the Cook County Board room.

“It will be a reminder of our responsibility to come up with policies to reduce this violence,” said Boykin.

All people of good will who want peace and safe neighborhoods can understand the desire to do anything to end the violence but the push for harsher penalties ignores the history and the facts and gets people to waste time and energy on a solution that has already been proven to fail.

Back in 1994, Clinton signed into law an omnibus crime bill that included the federal “three strikes” provision, mandating life sentences for criminals convicted of a violent felony after two or more prior convictions, including drug crimes. Clinton recently acknowledged that policy’s role in over-incarceration in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

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“The problem is the way it was written and implemented is we cast too wide a net and we had too many people in prison,” Clinton said recently. “And we wound up…putting so many people in prison that there wasn’t enough money left to educate them, train them for new jobs and increase the chances when they came out so they could live productive lives.”

Commissioner Boykin, do you honestly expect the just and equitable application of such domestic terrorist charging? Harsher sentencing cannot be discussed in a vacuum and it’s very ill-advised for any Black elected official to ignore history, reports and facts and push for harsher sentencing. Here are five reasons why.

Reason number one:
Research to date generally indicates that increases in the certainty of punishment, as opposed to the severity of punishment, are more likely to produce deterrent benefits, explains a report by The Sentencing Project. 

Reason number two:
It’s not hard work, intelligence or “The Secret” that has created the ridiculously huge racial wealth gap in America, which often reveals to violence, but failed public policy revealed a recent report.

Reason number three:
America has a long history of police brutality, bad arrests and kangaroo courts that has railroaded Black and Brown people into prisons since 1865. Disparities along race lines for arrests, prosecution and sentencing reflect a system that means no good to Black and Brown people.

Reason number four:
The prison industry in the United States, un-affectionally referred to as the Prison Industrial Complex is big business that exploits the Emancipation Proclamation by reverting all prisoners back into slaves, forcing them to work for free, for pennies but they would be denied that same job, working for dollars as a free person.

Reason number five:
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has given countless numbers of hours of discussion on the subject of the root causes of youth violence. In short, Black Americans have indeed been “made in America.” Black Americans have been manufactured into negroes who mimic the violence, hatred, and intolerance that they were produced under. So how does this country produce violent citizens and then penalize the criminals they created for such violence? The Minister made some excellent points in Justifiable Homicide: Black Youth in Peril Pt.3– American Gangster (DVD).

Fortunately, Comm. Boykin announced that he will hold a Cook County-citywide violence forum at 10 a.m.Saturday, June 13, 2015  at the UIC School of Public Health, 1603 W. Taylor St., to come up with strategies to reduce violence. Everyone should attend and voice their opinion.

Referring to the 2014 Harvard University “Equality of Opportunity” study, which measured the effects of growing up in each of the 100 Largest Counties in the U.S. by tracking children’s eventual income by age 26, Boykin said he was dismayed by the poor outcomes shown by children raised in Cook County.

Of the 100 largest counties studied, Cook County ranked ninety-six (96) in the country. By contrast, DuPage County ranked first (1).

“There is no reason that Cook County, which contains the City of Chicago, an engine of the American economy, cannot be the number one County to raise children in America,” Boykin said. “We must protect and invest in the lives of Cook County youth.”

About the author / 

Toure Muhammad

Author Toure Muhammad is the head bean, publisher and chief strategist of Bean Soup Times. The Morehouse graduate has written front page cover stories for The Final Call and N’digo. He has been featured in the Chicago Reader, Upscale magazine, rolling out newspaper, and N’Digo magapaper. He’s been featured on Tavis Smiley’s radio show on NPR, on Chicago’s WBEZ (Chicago public radio), and many other radio shows.

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