Trump needs to “send in the feds” to investigate Chicago pols’ ties to gangs

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Trump needs to "send in the feds" to investigate Chicago pols' ties to gangs

By John Ruberry

Last week via Twit­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump issued a warn­ing: “If Chicago doesn’t fix the hor­ri­ble ‘car­nage’ going on, 228 shoot­ings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!”

Local media was puz­zled and irked as to what Trump meant by “the feds.” Does that mean the US Army? Short of wide­spread riot­ing break­ing out in Chicago, that’s not likely to hap­pen. Per­haps Trump means to dis­patch FBI and DEA agents, or offi­cers from the Bureau of Alco­hol, Tobacco, Firearms. But the fed­eral gov­ern­ment already has staff from those crime fight­ing agen­cies assist­ing the Chicago Police in fight­ing its mur­der epidemic.

Unless there is an ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion, I don’t believe the feds are look­ing for the evil pony at the bot­tom of the manure pile – Chicago politi­cians and their con­nec­tions to street gangs.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_88469” align=“alignright” width=“236”] Street gang tem­ple,
Chicago’s South Side[/caption]

Elected offi­cials in Chicago con­stantly decry gun vio­lence. But while firearms are the symp­tom, the dis­ease is gang war­fare. By all accounts the great major­ity of mur­ders in Chicago are gang-​related. Mem­bers of the Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus on Chicago’s City Coun­cil reg­u­larly con­demn “gun vio­lence,” as do the other alder­men on the coun­cil. As for the for­mer, like all left­ists, they con­spire like a chess player to advance their causes, in this instance, this means a ban on all hand­guns in Chicago, if not all firearms. As for the rest of the alder­men, per­haps they are cau­tious in con­demn­ing gang vio­lence because some of them have ties to these crim­i­nal enter­prises that are hol­low­ing out Chicago’s poor­est neighborhoods.

Six years ago Chicago Mag­a­zine, in a story about those street gang-​pol con­nec­tions, inter­viewed Hal Baskin, a for­mer gang mem­ber who was defeated in his effort to join the City Coun­cil, about a meet­ing between alder­manic can­di­dates and gang-​bangers, or per­haps, accord­ing to the mag­a­zine, ex-​gang bangers.

The gang rep­re­sen­ta­tives were inter­ested in elect­ing alder­men sym­pa­thetic to their inter­ests and those of their impov­er­ished wards. As for the politi­cians, says Baskin, their inter­ests essen­tially boiled down to get­ting elected or reelected. “All of [the polit­i­cal hope­fuls] were aware of who they were meet­ing with,” he says. “They didn’t care. All they wanted to do was get the support.”

Baskin declined to name names, but Chicago has learned, through other sources at the meet­ings, the iden­ti­ties of some of the par­tic­i­pants. They include: Alder­men Howard Brookins Jr. (21st Ward), Wal­ter Bur­nett Jr. (27th), Willie Cochran (20th), and Fred­drenna Lyle (6th). Alder­man Pat Dow­ell (3rd) attended a meet­ing; upon real­iz­ing that the par­tic­i­pants had close gang ties, she objected but stayed. Also attend­ing were can­di­dates who would go on to win their races, includ­ing Michael Chan­dler (24th) and Rod­er­ick Sawyer (6th). Dar­cel Beavers, the for­mer 7th Ward alder­man who would wind up los­ing her race, and Patri­cia Hor­ton, a com­mis­sioner with the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Water Recla­ma­tion Dis­trict who lost her bid for city clerk, also met with the group.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_94699” align=“alignright” width=“184”] Cochran cam­paign sign in Englewood[/caption]

Late last year one of those under­handed alder­men, Willie Cochran, was indicted for a series of alleged finan­cial crimes, includ­ing steal­ing from his ward’s char­ity. Part of Cochran’s ward cov­ers the noto­ri­ous Engle­wood neigh­bor­hood on the South Side, one of the most vio­lent parts of “Chi­raq.” And by vio­lence of course I mean street gang violence.

Okay, I’m not an attor­ney, but Chicago Mag­a­zine pro­vided us a list of names that at the very least makes them, in my opin­ion, per­sons of interest.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_57883” align=“alignleft” width=“235”] Jesse Jack­son in Chicago in 2012[/caption]

Roughly once every 18 months a mem­ber of Chicago’s City Coun­cil is sen­tenced to prison, the most recent of which was Ald. Sandi Jack­son (7th). Her father-​in-​law is the Rev. Jesse Jack­son, whose half-​brother, Noah Robin­son, enjoyed long time con­nec­tions to the El Rukn gang, which, under a dif­fer­ent name, remains one of Chicago’s largest and most vicious street gangs. Robin­son is serv­ing a life sen­tence for nar­cotics crimes, rack­e­teer­ing, and murder-​for-​hire.

As for Jesse Jack­son, in 1984, dur­ing his first cam­paign for the pres­i­dency, he pub­licly lauded the El Rukns for their efforts in voter reg­is­tra­tion. The year prior the Cook County Reg­u­lar Demo­c­ra­tic Orga­ni­za­tion paid the gang over $10,000 to work as poll watch­ers for the failed cam­paign of incum­bent Chicago mayor Jane Bryne. At that time the party was led by Edward “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak, then the 10th Ward alder­man, who – this will sound famil­iar–was indicted late last year. Now a Repub­li­can, Vrdolyak is already an ex-​con.

Shame­ful.

What can the Chicago Police do about gangs and their politi­cian pals?

Accord­ing to that Chicago Mag­a­zine arti­cle, not a heck of a lot.

Two police sources — a for­mer gang inves­ti­ga­tor and a vet­eran detec­tive — bluntly acknowl­edge that even if the police know of dubi­ous deal­ings between an alder­man and a gang leader or drug dealer, there is lit­tle, if any­thing, they can do, thanks to what they say is the department’s unof­fi­cial rule: Stay away from pub­lic offi­cials. “We can’t arrest alder­men,” says the gang inves­ti­ga­tor, “unless they’re doing some­thing obvi­ous to endan­ger some­one. We’re told to stand down.” The detec­tive con­curs: “It’s the unwrit­ten rule. There’s a two-​tier jus­tice sys­tem here.”

That para­graph alone explains why Trump’s “feds,” or per­haps dif­fer­ent feds, are needed in America’s third-​largest city.

And the crim­i­nal­ity appar­ently goes past shoot­ings, as Chicago Mag­a­zine again tells us.

Beyond pro­vid­ing pro­tec­tion from police — the gangs’ num­ber one request — pub­lic offi­cials can help in other ways. Gang lead­ers, par­tic­u­larly the most pow­er­ful, are usu­ally look­ing to build on the riches they already have. Know­ing an alder­man or a state leg­is­la­tor — or even a con­gress­man — can help. Tra­di­tion­ally, alder­men have almost total say over what gets built and what sorts of busi­nesses open in their wards. They also have con­sid­er­able sway over city con­tracts, which can mean tens of thou­sands to mil­lions of dol­lars for gang-​owned businesses.

Chicago needs Trump’s feds.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_54680” align=“alignright” width=“206”] John “Lee” Ruberry of the Mag­nif­i­cent Seven[/caption]

Or maybe the pres­i­dent only needs to send an accoun­tant. It was a mem­ber of that pro­fes­sion, Frank J. Wil­son of the US Trea­sury Depart­ment, who put together the evi­dence to con­vict Al Capone of tax evasion.

John Ruberry, a fifth-​generation Chicago area res­i­dent, reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit.

By John Ruberry

Last week via Twitter President Donald Trump issued a warning: “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!”

Local media was puzzled and irked as to what Trump meant by “the feds.” Does that mean the US Army? Short of widespread rioting breaking out in Chicago, that’s not likely to happen. Perhaps Trump means to dispatch FBI and DEA agents, or officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms. But the federal government already has staff from those crime fighting agencies assisting the Chicago Police in fighting its murder epidemic.

Unless there is an ongoing investigation, I don’t believe the feds are looking for the evil pony at the bottom of the manure pile–Chicago politicians and their connections to street gangs.

Street gang temple,
Chicago’s South Side

Elected officials in Chicago constantly decry gun violence. But while firearms are the symptom, the disease is gang warfare. By all accounts the great majority of murders in Chicago are gang-related. Members of the Progressive Caucus on Chicago’s City Council regularly condemn “gun violence,” as do the other aldermen on the council. As for the former, like all leftists, they conspire like a chess player to advance their causes, in this instance, this means a ban on all handguns in Chicago, if not all firearms. As for the rest of the aldermen, perhaps they are cautious in condemning gang violence because some of them have ties to these criminal enterprises that are hollowing out Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.

Six years ago Chicago Magazine, in a story about those street gang-pol connections, interviewed Hal Baskin, a former gang member who was defeated in his effort to join the City Council, about a meeting between aldermanic candidates and gang-bangers, or perhaps, according to the magazine, ex-gang bangers.

The gang representatives were interested in electing aldermen sympathetic to their interests and those of their impoverished wards. As for the politicians, says Baskin, their interests essentially boiled down to getting elected or reelected. “All of [the political hopefuls] were aware of who they were meeting with,” he says. “They didn’t care. All they wanted to do was get the support.”

Baskin declined to name names, but Chicago has learned, through other sources at the meetings, the identities of some of the participants. They include: Aldermen Howard Brookins Jr. (21st Ward), Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), Willie Cochran (20th), and Freddrenna Lyle (6th). Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd) attended a meeting; upon realizing that the participants had close gang ties, she objected but stayed. Also attending were candidates who would go on to win their races, including Michael Chandler (24th) and Roderick Sawyer (6th). Darcel Beavers, the former 7th Ward alderman who would wind up losing her race, and Patricia Horton, a commissioner with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District who lost her bid for city clerk, also met with the group.

Cochran campaign sign in Englewood

Late last year one of those underhanded aldermen, Willie Cochran, was indicted for a series of alleged financial crimes, including stealing from his ward’s charity. Part of Cochran’s ward covers the notorious Englewood neighborhood on the South Side, one of the most violent parts of “Chiraq.” And by violence of course I mean street gang violence.

Okay, I’m not an attorney, but Chicago Magazine provided us a list of names that at the very least makes them, in my opinion, persons of interest.

Jesse Jackson in Chicago in 2012

Roughly once every 18 months a member of Chicago’s City Council is sentenced to prison, the most recent of which was Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th). Her father-in-law is the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose half-brother, Noah Robinson, enjoyed long time connections to the El Rukn gang, which, under a different name, remains one of Chicago’s largest and most vicious street gangs. Robinson is serving a life sentence for narcotics crimes, racketeering, and murder-for-hire.

As for Jesse Jackson, in 1984, during his first campaign for the presidency, he publicly lauded the El Rukns for their efforts in voter registration. The year prior the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization paid the gang over $10,000 to work as poll watchers for the failed campaign of incumbent Chicago mayor Jane Bryne. At that time the party was led by Edward “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak, then the 10th Ward alderman, who–this will sound familiar–was indicted late last year. Now a Republican, Vrdolyak is already an ex-con.

Shameful.

What can the Chicago Police do about gangs and their politician pals?

According to that Chicago Magazine article, not a heck of a lot.

Two police sources—a former gang investigator and a veteran detective—bluntly acknowledge that even if the police know of dubious dealings between an alderman and a gang leader or drug dealer, there is little, if anything, they can do, thanks to what they say is the department’s unofficial rule: Stay away from public officials. “We can’t arrest aldermen,” says the gang investigator, “unless they’re doing something obvious to endanger someone. We’re told to stand down.” The detective concurs: “It’s the unwritten rule. There’s a two-tier justice system here.”

That paragraph alone explains why Trump’s “feds,” or perhaps different feds, are needed in America’s third-largest city.

And the criminality apparently goes past shootings, as Chicago Magazine again tells us.

Beyond providing protection from police—the gangs’ number one request—public officials can help in other ways. Gang leaders, particularly the most powerful, are usually looking to build on the riches they already have. Knowing an alderman or a state legislator—or even a congressman—can help. Traditionally, aldermen have almost total say over what gets built and what sorts of businesses open in their wards. They also have considerable sway over city contracts, which can mean tens of thousands to millions of dollars for gang-owned businesses.

Chicago needs Trump’s feds.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

Or maybe the president only needs to send an accountant. It was a member of that profession, Frank J. Wilson of the US Treasury Department, who put together the evidence to convict Al Capone of tax evasion.

John Ruberry, a fifth-generation Chicago area resident, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.