by WorldTribune Staff, June 10, 2020
Black community leaders and business owners worked for years to turn around Chicago’s most violent neighborhood, only to see it burned and looted in a matter of days, the pastor of New Beginnings Church said.
When Pastor Corey Brooks first arrived at the church in the south side of Chicago, “the neighborhood held the sad distinction of having one of the nation’s highest homicide rates. Over the years, we have changed that statistic. We have built a thriving church with an average of 600 to 750 people at our services each Sunday. We have a community center with a free gym, a career center that offers advice and assistance with interviews, and a high-impact jobs training program that has helped people build successful careers in fields such as construction or landscaping,” Brooks noted in a June 4 op-ed for The American Conservative.
The rioting, burning and looting, however, “have set us back in our ministry work and have done incalculable damage to our community. The physical damage to property pales in comparison to the damage done to our morale,” wrote Brooks, who is also founder and CEO of Project H.O.O.D Communities Development Corporation
George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis “sparked understandable outrage. How could another black man have died because of police brutality? The protests began as a natural outpouring of grief, as white and black Americans were united in their horror at this senseless act,” Brooks noted.
“But these protests turned violent, and the victims of this widespread looting are often the black community leaders and business owners. How does it advance our cause of racial harmony to wreck the black communities?”
The rioting resulted in the looting of grocery stores, leaving residents without local options to buy food. CVS and Walgreens were looted, leaving the neighborhood without a pharmacy. Church members shuttled members of the community to the suburbs to get their prescriptions and basic goods.
“The question lingers on many of our minds: Will these stores and pharmacies — so essential for daily living here — ever come back? It’s challenging enough in normal times to lure stores and businesses to rough neighborhoods; it’s going to be far more difficult to entice business owners to set up shop in our beleaguered communities now,” Brooks wrote.
Leftist policies and worldview “emphasize government as the solution to all problems, except, paradoxically, when we need police,” Brooks noted, adding that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot “has been unable or unwilling to put a stop to the violence in the streets of our home city, in part because she has been unable to offer a strong defense for good law enforcement agents doing the necessary work of making our neighborhoods livable.”
No one, Brooks wrote, “wants to live in an un-policed and lawless neighborhood. Thriving neighborhoods are able to attract businesses and families precisely because of the rule of law and the police officers upholding it. Lawless neighborhoods, by contrast, are a turn-off for parents and business owners.”
The violence that has been rampant in Chicago for years, “has nothing to do with isolated incidents of police brutality,” Brooks wrote. “Over Memorial Day weekend, ten African-Americans were shot and killed in drive-by shootings. I’ve given funeral sermons for victims of drive-by shootings in the past, and those victims’ deaths are each a senseless tragedy.”
The south side of Chicago “does not need police stepping back and retreating because of political agendas. The logical extension of liberal police reform is for law enforcement agents to retreat from their duties, but this is exactly wrong and will weaken our neighborhoods,” Brooks wrote.
“Black Americans deserve better than this.”