Two of Chicago’s most important journalists and researchers join our panel this week.
Mick Dumke and Alden Loury worked together years ago at the Chicago Reporter. (Investigating Race and Poverty Since 1972). Alden went on to become the Reporter’s publisher, then joined the BGA as an investigator and reporter, and recently became the Metropolitan Planning Council’s Director of Research and Evaluation. Mick went on to a long career at the Chicago Reader, where he was widely celebrated for his comprehensive investigative reporting. Today he’s at the Sun-Times, where he works with the Watchdogs investigative unit.
Loury tells us about The Cost of Segregation, a recent and continuing project at MPC. He says that, based on research from other organizations, MPC looked at where Chicago stands compared to the biggest 100 cities in the U.S. (Chicago comes in around tenth in racial segregation). Then they looked at the median, and asked how different Chicago would be if it improved to that point.
“And what those numbers show,” he explains, “is $4.4-billion in additional black income, per capita income per year, 30% fewer homicides, and 83,000 more bachelor’s degrees, 78% of which would be attained by whites, the remaining 22% by African Americans and that would be over a 10-year period.”
Then the researchers asked, what if Chicago had been at that median level in 2000? “If we were at the median in terms of our black white segregation in 2,000, by 2010 we would have had 83,000 more people with bachelor’s degrees based on the percentages of African Americans and the percentage of whites with bachelor’s degrees in regions that are at the median or near the median.”
Dumke’s recent story in the Sun-Times deals with the quickly-increasing numbers of recent parolees who are getting arrested for “unlawful contact” with gang members after their release from prison. Dumke tells us that contact is at least in part due to the way people are released.
“There appears to be a complete lack of, almost complete lack of planning about how to release people into the community giving people the means to succeed once they re-enter society, and giving the communities resources to do something about it,” he explains.
“This is just a law that’s so open-ended that the police can basically stop anybody for anything,” he continues. “It’s like the old gang loitering law which was eventually found unconstitutional, or disorderly conduct at one point in time…and these kinds of nuisance association kinds of crime which are really open-ended allow the police to sort of pick up whoever they want fundamentally. And there’s a context of police under pressure to do something about this, so they are going into neighborhoods that are just flooded with people on parole. Most of them have very few resources to do anything to change their lives around, very little help to do that, and they can essentially be arrested for getting a ride with somebody or just talking with someone who lives down the street.”
This problem is related to two contradictory pressures, Dumke tells us. Both the left and the right tend to agree that too many people are in prison in the U.S., and there is an effort to let people with lesser offenses out. But when these parolees are released, they go back to the same places where they got into trouble in the first place.
“I personally don’t think it’s a coincidence that as the parole population has gone up and the state budget crisis has resulted in zero spending for re-entry services over the last two years, at the same time we’re having this crime spike.,” he asserts. “In fairness to the Chicago Police Department they are under extraordinary pressure to do something about a very complicated set of problems, and they’re doing what they’ve been trained and told to do which is to step up policing.”
The result has been a recent spike in arrests for parolee contact with street gang members. Dumke recalls the “stop and frisk” period a few years ago that resulted in hundreds of thousands of street stops until the ACLU and others intervened.
“I did a story a couple of months ago about stop and frisk looking at the numbers after the ACLU agreement went into effect. And it was like 3% of the people who were stopped and frisked were found to be with weapons. And so you know there are two arguments for justifications for this. One is you want to find illegal guns, and that number alone shows that that wasn’t happening. You know 97% of the people you were stopping didn’t have guns, so you weren’t getting those guns through this approach. The other argument of course is that well it’s a deterrent, so even if we don’t catch someone with a gun, then the word goes out you can’t walk around with a gun in Chicago, we’re going to get you at some point in time. But there’s absolutely no evidence that that deterrent has been in place. I mean during this time you know homicides and shootings have actually gone up.
Loury explains in detail the findings of his recent research showing that in suburbs where large proportions of its white residents move out, within a few years many of the jobs also leave. He cites Calumet City, where 63% of whites left between 2000 and 2010, and within a few years more than a quarter of the jobs also left.
“Calumet City is now a black community,” he tells us, “but the fact that it is a black community is going to carry some consequence. And it’s not fair, but it is the reality that we live in. The same thing you could say about neighborhoods like Auburn Gresham or North Lawndale, that when they were majority white they had a certain character and vitality to them. But when they became all black, even when the all black was relatively middle class it became much harder for those communities to make a case for people outside of those communities to visit, to shop there, even to travel through there, and it made it much more difficult for them to bring investment in, and that to me is the real crime with regard to this issue of segregation, because when communities gain a character in terms of their racial identity, it then seems to carry other aspects or other characteristics, which may not necessarily be true.”
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And you can read a full transcript of this show HERE:CN transcript April 27 2017