Reprinted with permission of the Courier-Journal:
It’s an uncomfortable headline for a place that touts itself as a “Compassionate City”: “OUR BLOODIEST YEAR - Thanksgiving homicides push 2016 body count past the previous record - with 5 weeks to go.” The front page piece in last Saturday’s Courier-Journal distills some disturbing facts.
Of the 113 victims at the time of this writing, two-thirds were under age 35; 12 were juveniles. Approximately 60 percent were black. This is the highest number of homicides in Louisville since at least 1960 when statistics on the subject were first kept.
How awful to contemplate the grief, the empty chairs, in all those homes this holiday season.
These statistics should outrage all Louisvillians. Unfortunately, the geographic concentration of the homicides tends to make the crime seem remote to those of us who don’t live in the areas with the most homicides: Russell, Shawnee, Shelby Park, Parkland, Beechmont, and Shively.
The Fischer administration seems loath to name these neighborhoods. In a WDRB interview with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Police Chief Steve Conrad, the latter said that 50 percent of the shootings occurred in 11 neighborhoods.
Conrad then stated, "No one wants to have their neighborhood labeled, but we consider these neighborhoods hot spots, and we're focusing our patrol efforts in these 11 neighborhoods in particular.”
That’s great to patrol known problem areas. Common sense would dictate no less. The caution about not labeling neighborhoods, however, smacks of political correctness. Surely the people who live there are acutely aware of the problem.
It’s much harder to solve a problem that one will not name for fear of causing offense — as we learned from eight years of the Obama administration refusing to call out radical Islamic terrorism for what it is.
There seems to be a similar reticence on the part of the mayor to discuss the role that gangs play in this crime wave.
Conrad confirmed in March that Louisville has gangs — at least 25. Fischer, however, hasn’t said much publicly about the presence of gangs in Louisville and the connection to the rising homicide rate.
To be sure, LMPD and the mayor do not want to say anything that gives a gang notoriety that increases its prominence. It’s like not naming a mass murderer, so as to deter copycats who crave fame. Still, the presence of gangs generally in Louisville is a public health crisis and must be addressed as such. How about a task force to address gang violence, composed of members of the clergy, educators, law enforcement, youth, mental health practitioners and others?
When WDRB asked Fisher why 2016 has been such a violent year, Fischer pointed to many explanations:
Well unfortunately, it's not just a problem for our city. This is a real national epidemic that's going on right now. Three-quarters of U.S. cities are seeing these significant upticks in violent crime like we are.
But when you take a look at the violent crime in our city, just like all over the country, it usually has a couple of things involved. One is illegal drug activity, and two is improper use of guns and people's inability to solve problems. So that's an issue, domestic violence is an issue, then you have random violence like we saw yesterday. It's just not helpful. It's a real national epidemic.
Note that Fischer’s answer does not mention gangs. That’s a curious omission, given their large number here.
Nor is it acceptable to rationalize Louisville’s crime problem as part of a “national epidemic.” In so doing, Fischer ignores that most U.S. cities — like Louisville — are run by Democrats, and have been for decades.
Democrat mayors have run Cleveland for more than 25 years. Democrat mayors have ruled Detroit for over 63 years. That hasn’t worked out so well for either city. Likewise for Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, San Francisco, Los Angeles. In New Orleans, which last had a Republican mayor in 1872, one person was killed and nine injured in shootings in the French Quarter this past weekend - despite strict new gun laws.
Democrat control has turned inner cities into war zones where children are dying. And where regulations and lawsuits deter businesses like Wal-Mart from relocating.
Fischer stood 200 feet from the Thanksgiving shootings at the Juice Bowl. He’s seen the violence first-hand and doubtless wants to do everything in his power to end it.
Republicans also need to offer an alternative, here and in cities across the country. Republican Rudy Giuliani turned around New York City. It can be done here, as well. And the central issue must be: who can reduce crime and thereby keep our children safe?