It was an exciting day in Chicago today. Down here in Chicago Heights, the excitement is only starting to build. I just got a call telling me that a local gang leader walked into a Chicago Heights business today and told him that they were taking over this town. Dave Gonzalez has "unleashed the dogs." Not exactly sure what that means, other than it's a warning. I'm supposed to tell those opposed to corruption, drugs and gangs in Chicago Heights to back off. Or something.
It's almost like living inside a movie. I know that Gonzalez and his gang think that we should be afraid. Maybe they are, and they are projecting their fear on others. I can't really say. But what I do know is that Gonzalez clearly didn't grow up in the South, didn't experience race riots or drug wars. I had friends who had crosses burned on their lawns when I was a kid. We had a race riot (with the cowboys bringing their shotguns to school) when I was first in high school. I worked a special Congressional election in Miami in the middle of the 80s. Columbian drug lords thought nothing of shooting up the place.
So I'm having a hard time taking all the threats from the Heights seriously. Seriously.
Sure, Chicago Heights is the murder capitol of Chicagoland. And more than a few people have suggested that I should be afraid, very afraid going up against someone who is so connected. But, again, I grew up in the midst of the Civil Rights movement. So I understand perfectly that people with power (like Dave Gonzalez) don't give it up easily.
What I find so fascinating, though, is why anyone would think that an increase in gang tags or public bravado would help Dave Gonzalez. Sure, we have lots of Hispanic support for the Integrity platform, but I find it hard to believe that Dave Gonzalez believes it. And trying to intimidate Integrity volunteers? If they are anything like me, they will only get madder -- and more determined.
At the very time that people in Egypt and Tunisia have overturned tyrants (and one party rule) in their countries, it's really difficult to understand why Dave Gonzalez would think that he could succeed with these tired old tactics right here in the South Suburbs. He's got power (now), and he's determined to keep it. I understand that. But getting the gangs to do your dirty work? And that's supposed to help?
I dunno, but I think some politicians haven't entered the 21st century. Dave Gonzalez is at the top of that list. The real question is whether Chicago Heights is stuck in the past, as well...