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Tio Hardiman Headshot

Chicago's Cowboy Mentality

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Everybody appears to be a little confused when it comes down to addressing the issue of violence in Chicago. Senator Mark Kirk announced his new plan, Superintendent McCarthy also announced his plans, and Mayor Emanuel is touting his Safe Passage Program. However, Chicago is not experiencing a gang problem as many people would like to believe. It's all about the "Cowboy Mentality" in Chicago. The gang problem in Chicago was very prevalent in the last 20 to 30 years. Now you have a lot of young guys that do not have a rhyme or reason to why they shoot and kill people with no regard. Last week in Chicago a young man shot and killed a guy over a beer and then pistol-whipped another young man. Was this gang-related or just a renegade act of violence? No matter what one may think in regard to all of the violence in Chicago, if you do not change the "Cowboy Mentality," then it will be very hard to reduce the killings in Chicago. People are being shot almost every day in some of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods. All of the shootings have a different motive. If all of the shootings were gang- and drug-related, then law enforcement would have a definite target to go after. By most of the shootings being random, it's hard to stop the violence on the front end.

During the Cowboy Era the guys wore their guns in a holster and at least you knew they were armed. This may sound kind of crazy, but there may come a time when young men in Chicago will need to wear a helmet and bullet-proof vest just to make it back home safe. Some people may think that this is way out on the limb. However, could somebody present or introduce another strategy that could work and really reduce the violence in Chicago, once and for all? You have to consider the fact that thousands of the young people that have been shot and killed in Chicago lost their life for no reason at all. A combination of alcohol, drug use, misunderstandings, distrust, jealousy, road rage, gang violence, drug trade, self-hatred, high illiteracy rates, fatherless homes, high unemployment, revenge, peer pressure, poor impulse control, and many more issues lead to high levels of violence in a city like Chicago. The violence is everywhere in Chicago.

One of the only solutions would be to hire young men from the streets to serve as peacemakers for their own group and begin the process of reversing this "Cowboy Mentality," which dictates, I better get you before you get me. Whoever beats the next man to the draw is considered the tough guy until somebody else comes along and beats the tough guy to the draw. This type of thinking is played out in movies, amongst world leaders, and in some of the popular music. All plans are definitely welcomed but we have not come up with a solid plan to address the mindset of some individuals that feel like it is okay to just take a life. More strategies need to be developed to address the reason why some people continue to kill one another in the city of Chicago. Particularly, why so many African American youth are so quick to kill one another since a great majority of the shootings and killings in Chicago take place in the African American community.