Every time a black man is shot on the streets of Chicago, I think of my friend, Michele Dowdy, who lost her son to gun violence in 2012 and how justice continues to elude her. Malcom Dowdy, 33, was not in a gang; he was not involved in a fight at the time of the shooting – he was simply a family man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Dowdy was shot by mistake on Memorial Day 2012 and his murderer has still not been arrested and brought to trial, although the case remains open.
“It’s very frustrating,” Michele said Thursday.
Two years after Malcom Dowdy’s murder, gun violence on the streets of Chicago has reached crisis proportions. On the July 4 weekend, 82 people were shot, mostly young Black men, and 16 people were killed. The reports of these shootings – and violent deaths – seem so routine these days, so detached, so matter-of-fact. But we’re facing an epidemic that is sweeping through Chicago and taking hold of this country. We’re losing an entire generation of young Black men to gun violence and nobody seems to have a plan to stop it.
There have been countless meetings with police and residents; studies by educators and psychologists; and police claims that the overall crime rate is dropping. Last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel blamed the federal government for the shootings, claiming the feds have not done enough to provide young people with after-school programs. That was a stretch by any political yardstick. So what will it take to stop these shootings? What will it take to stop the culture that glorifies brazen murders in public parks?
Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston, Illinois Chairman of the National Action Network, is calling for a summit on urban violence and criticized Emanuel for poor leadership.
“If Rahm can raise money for his campaign, he can raise money to replace resources that have been ripped from the disadvantaged and challenged communities where senseless violence erupted once again this weekend,” Livingston said. “School closings and union busting are just a few of the grave issues that affect this nature of violence.”
Livingston has a point, but it’s also a parental issue as well. What are parents teaching these black boys and can’t some parents do a better job of reining in their offspring? Michele Dowdy, she did all the right things: She taught her son right from wrong, raised him to respect women and family, she taught him the meaning of a solid work ethic and instilled the importance of serving his country.
“He was the first grandchild on both sides of the family, a proud father of a daughter … he had a fiancé, a new home, he was a veteran, a dean’s list student, a working man,” Michele told me. “He was well-respected by all,” she said. “But most of all, he was my son, my heir, my backup, my protector, my confidant, not perfect, mine. At the time of his death he was very, very happy and planning a wedding.” Black men like Malcom Dowdy are dying senselessly on the streets of Chicago and police can’t seem to close their cases.