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Friday, June 08, 2007
Gang ready to kill over busted window
Calvin Buchanon is a convicted criminal and former gang member.

"Stop the violence!" he bellows to a group of young toughs.

On Chicago's west side, Calvin is working his way toward a staff position with Ceasefire, an organization dedicated to reducing shootings and killings.

"Because I'm tired of seeing little kids get killed and dying out here for something that's not even worth it," he told us.

The problem is very real here. In the past year, 30 Chicago public school children have been killed on the streets, largely because of gang warfare. Those numbers represent a small portion of the violence that's plagued certain neighborhoods in the city. Yet, Ceasefire staff tell me, street violence would be worse if not for their efforts.

To demonstrate the point, Calvin and other Ceasefire members called "violence interrupters," showed me how they stopped a problem before it got out of control. They introduced me to members of the Vice Lords, a well-established gang that had recently been disrespected by another gang. Someone had smashed-out the window of their car.

"We were ready to kill someone," said Rio.

"You're gonna shoot a kid cause he kicks out your window?" I asked.

"I ain't gonna say necessarily kill him," answered Jim, another Vice Lord, "But you gonna mess somebody up."

I asked: "What do you get out of it if he's dead?"

"Relief," Jim answered. "No one else will kick out the windows thinking they're gonna get away with it."

Calvin is one of the messengers chosen to cool things down, someone with street credibility who's trying to prevent a murder from happening.

"They speak the same language," said Ceasefire's director, Gary Slutkin. "They use the same cuss words, and they can get into their minds."

Ceasefire's staff says the organization's approach to fighting violence is similar to how other organizations fight epidemics such as AIDS. The only way to stop the killing, they believe, is to send in credible messengers, like Calvin Buchanan, who can help relate to the people involved. In this case, Calvin's mission is to convince the Vice Lords that murder just isn't "worth it."

-- By Keith Oppenheim, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 3:33 PM ET
  25 Comments
Hello Keith,
Killing others for busted windows. ABSURD!
I am afraid this senseless violence goes on everywhere. In my small town of about 30k, there was an incident similar to this a few weeks ago. A man walked outside his home to find another man bashing his car windshield. The owner of the home shot and KILLED the man beating in the windshield. UNBELIEVEABLE! Of course the homeowner went to jail for murder but that won't bring back the dead man to his loved ones. The gunman claimed he was protecting his property. He was white and the victim was black. It will be very interesting to see how far he gets with his defense in Texas.
A fews years back I knew of a man who killed another man over a trespassing dog!
GUN CONTROL for those out of control!!!!
Peace~
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 4:07 PM ET
Not saying it is right but I totally understand why someone would want to beat someone's butt that kicked in your windshield. Who the heck are they to do that and get away with it and now you are stuck with the bill to fix it - because Lord knows that that punk doesn't have a job to pay for it even if it was court ordered.

These punk kids get away with too much BS these days and then hide behide the juvenile court system. People both young and old need to understand that if you are man enough to do the deed you better be man enough to face what's coming. Don't write checks your azz can't cash
Posted By CJ from Jersey : 4:18 PM ET
"It is not enough to understand, or to see clearly. The future will be shaped in the arena of human activity, by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to the task. (Robert F. Kennedy)” What Ceasefire is doing is just what Kennedy referred to above. We hear about things going on in the world, whether it be violence or famine and we think it is enough merely to know that it is going on, but it isn't. If we want to make a difference and get rid of violence,famine,and injustice, it takes action. It takes individuals willing to go the distance, stay the course, and dedicate all they have to the cause. I am glad that there are organizations like Ceasefire and I hope that more are established because the loss of life do to gang related warfare is to high a price to pay.
Posted By Jessica, Bourbonnais Illinois : 4:21 PM ET
I just wanted to correct my typo-error. In the final sentence in my comment I said "...the loss of life do to gang related warfare is to high a price to pay do to gang related warfare is to high a price to pay" It should have been "...the loss of life DUE to gang related warfare is to high a price to pay." Forgive my error.
Posted By Jessica, Bourbonnais Illinois : 4:34 PM ET
I sure hope more "Calvin's" offer to help. We need to attack this problem from every angle. Where are the police in all of this? Thanks for the story.
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 4:44 PM ET
"Cleanse The Ghetto!!" Just lock up all the gang members and throw away the keys!
Posted By Sally, Jackson, Wyoming : 5:07 PM ET
Those male gang members should all by spayed/neutered/sterilized just like a dog or cat so they can't reproduce their kind. Problem solved! :-)
Posted By Cindy, Cincinnatti, OH : 5:08 PM ET
Rabid animals. These idiots are only "bad" when they're in their numbers. Individually they're nothing but cowards. My compliments to Ceasefire for at least trying. That organization may well be the little Dutch boy attempting to plug the dike.
Posted By Arthur, Tucson AZ : 5:29 PM ET
Anderson,
This is a tragic reality that many inner city kids have to face every day. I am happy to hear that there is an organization trying to confront this at the street level. It's a dangerous task, and their opperatives' safety will be in my prayers.
I would like to thank you for not taking the low road and suggesting gun control. Chicago has banned the concealed carry of firearms. This is a great example of how gun control doesn't work. The criminals continue to murder and injure innocent people, because they do not obey the laws anyway, while the law abiding go unarmed. It is a very sad situation, but it is a good example of how banning guns doesn't help.
Thank you for being fair and balanced in this report, and staying away from bashing gun owners.

Aaron Lynch, Lynnwood, WA
Posted By Anonymous : 5:37 PM ET
Its a truly sad commentary on the state of our society. These kids should be having fun and thinking about nothing more important than sports,girls or boys and finishing school. Instead they are caught up in something that destroys lives and keeps them down forever. There was a time in the past when this type of thing wasnt an issue and something has gone horribly wrong with our society that this is now the norm.
Posted By Lisa Jax Fl : 5:38 PM ET
Im glad to hear about this group; The Guardian Angels have also had such success all around the country; it's a good thing for citizens to stand up because the police officers can't prevent all of the violence, but they do an outstanding job protecting us. The police can't make really violent people go away or change their behavior. If someone is bent on doing harm, they will find a way and a weapon. So thanks to our police - they are the finest men and women.
Posted By xtina - chicago, IL : 5:38 PM ET
I am utterly amazed at the level of violence some people are willing to take for 'relief'. I am also utterly amazed at the level of ignorance that people are displaying by calling for spaying and 'cleansing'. Reeks of racism. Kudos to Ceasefire for taking action and shining a light for those who are wandering in the dark.
Posted By Sara in Portland : 5:58 PM ET
I am utterly amazed at the level of violence some people are willing to take for 'relief'. I am also utterly amazed at the level of ignorance that people are displaying by calling for spaying and 'cleansing'. Reeks of racism. Kudos to Ceasefire for taking action and shining a light for those who are wandering in the dark.
Posted By Sara in Portland : 5:58 PM ET
I'm all for the spaying and neutering. Nothing else works. If it does, why is this an ever ongoing problem?

It's not even about racism. It's about character, and how these "people" have deliberately chosen to lack it.

It won't take long for everybody involved in Ceasefire to see that negotiations with the recreationally sociopathic and psychotic simply do not work.
Posted By Juliana Jaeger, Evanston, IL : 6:40 PM ET
What the hell is wrong with kids today. Are they not taught manners? I swear we have decline in civility in the United States and I blame the entertainment industry for being such disgusting role models. It does take a village to raise our children and the people in the entertainment industry is are the village reprobates.
Posted By Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA : 6:41 PM ET
To Sara and all the blithering liberals who want *no restrictions* of any kind on society--that's why we have these kinds of problems in our society/culture: too much freedom!!...and not enough discipline and toughness on criminals and gangsters, etc. The Liberal "soft gloves" is to blame for all the crap and violence in our society today. PS--no "name calling" please Sara (re: "ignorance"). Why don't you *adopt* a couple of these gangsters into your cushy, comfy Portland burbs home for the summer??!? Then, tell us how you feel in September after having a couple of thugs in your house all summer!! hehehe! "You can take the punk out of the ghetto; but, you can't take the ghetto out of the punk."
Posted By Sylvia, Boston, MA : 6:53 PM ET
Keith

Thank you for telling us about this group that tries to help solve the problem and by your report is having some success, one case at a time. I hope more people like this can be found in all the communities that have this problem so that the youth attracted to gangs can be educated to other ways of dealing with the blows that life deals out. Its nice to hear of a positive solution to this. Thank you for your report.
Posted By Annie Kate, Birmingham AL : 10:30 PM ET
"Not saying it is right but I totally understand why someone would want to beat someone's butt that kicked in your windshield. Who the heck are they to do that and get away with it and now you are stuck with the bill to fix it."

This is what one poster wrote, and it's why, in my opimion, groups like Ceasefire are so desperately needed. Sure, everybody gets pissed off at being vandalized or robbed. One's immediate reaction is anger, I don't care who you are. But in a world of adults and knowledge and wisdom and civilization, we don't just act on gut impulses. Alas, the number of people these days who DO act on rage impulses and who can equate a smashed windshield, the sign of some teenaged stupidity and disrespect, with the cold-blooded taking of a LIFE, that is truly scary. As a society, we care less and less about living beings, and more and more about things or images, and this is tragic.
Posted By Lisa Williams, Bloomington, IN : 11:50 PM ET
We see similar violence in parts of Los Angeles. The lack of values among inner city youth is appalling. No wonder so few get ahead they come from a morally bankrupt culture.
Posted By Donald SMith, Los Angeles, California : 2:28 AM ET
Well what's your solution Sara from Portland? Sit down with them for cookies and milk and try to get to the bottom of their anger? Maybe have a drum circle and then sing kumbayah? Do a little positive affirmation Stewart Smalley style?

I can imagine that working really, really well... NOT!
Posted By Dave in Dallas : 3:11 AM ET
To Sara in Portland: It doesn't matter what race, gender or what have you that these people are, the fact remains that they are a complete and utter drain on society. I am all for equality and fairness and allowing people to do what they want (within reason) but the minute people start getting hurt or killed, those priviledges need to be revoked. Killing someone over a broken windshield? Come on now, that just proves the point that there needs to be some sort of stop to the cycle.

Kid grows up in a bad neighborhood (city, town, white, black, Latino etc), joins gang, commits crimes, hurts/kills people, has no job, has kids who grow up in bad neighborhoods, join gangs, etc etc ad nauseum. Where does it stop? How many kids need to be killed before we decide enough is enough? How is the cycle broken? One way would be to stop producing new gang members. Mandatory birth control/sterilization for anyone recieving public assistance or anyone convicted of a gang-related or violent crime. Harsh (and maybe not the best answer), but effective.

If another country killed 30 of our citizens (let alone kids) in less than a year, do you think we would turn a bling eye? We have gone to war with less provocation!

Finally, to Donna in Bremerton: How about blaming the parents instead of the entertainment industry? Where are the parents? Why are they allowing their children to do such things? It doesn't need to take a village to raise a child and teach them right from wrong, all it takes is a parent who knows right from wrong and is able (and willing) to instill it their offspring. There are millions of kids in this country who watch/listen/play the same stuff as these kids, and they aren't killing each other. If the parents of these kids cannot or will not raise their children in a way that produces contributing members of society, then maybe they shouldn't be having children in the first place. If the tax payers have to pay for the programs that help these "disadvantaged" people, we should have the right to demand some sort of oversight, compensation or rules. They want our money and help, fine, but they have to play by our rules or we will take our ball and go home.
Posted By Todd Dover NH : 11:59 AM ET
I think when discussing gangs and gang violence it's important to also discuss why gangs form in the first place.

Take a group of people, pack them densely into sub-standard housing, give only a fraction of them legitimate jobs, send their children to schools with outdated and falling-apart books (or no books, as it occasionally happens), and make it just barely possible to live. Mental illness is way over the national average in these areas, along with physical sicknesses that often come with the toxicity of soil and water in inner cities. Community may be strong on the surface, but in truth most are reduced to having to be worried about feeding their own selves and their families.

Gangs are not innately about violence or drugs or guns. They're about community and support and surviving in a capitalistic (profit over people) system that works to maintain this underclass. The violence and drugs come into play when systems fail human beings: when minimum wage doesn't come anywhere near a living wage, when schools are literally falling apart, when people can't afford basic health care and perscriptions.

I think any of us, if put into a similar situation with no outside resources, would resort to whatever it took to survive. I work with a gang-affiliated young man who was trying to help his mom pay the rent with a minimum-wage job, but they couldn't pull the money together and were about to lose their housing. In a moment of desperation, he went out and robbed three people at gunpoint, and was able to save his family from being homeless.

Organizations like the one mentioned in the article are great resources for gang-affiliated youth, but there aren't enough people asking "What if?" What if we universalize health care and education? What if we raise the minimum wage on a national level? What if everyone who wanted to go to college could, and leave loan-free? There are many positive examples throughout the world (Norway, for one) that we should be looking at and modeling from. And just think what we could do with all of the money spent on this bogus war.
Posted By Jay from Minneapolis, MN : 12:46 PM ET
This is not a race, class or ghetto issue. And, as I applaud Ceasfire and men like Calvin who are trying to intervene, it is a losing battle. To me, this is a symptom of the failure of the family in America. Broken families and broken marriages leave kids to grow up figuring things out on their own. This wouldn't be such a big deal if the issues kid wrestle with today weren't so enormous and prevalent: sex, violence, self-image and self-esteem, drugs. Gangs provide that community and value-system (however distorted it may be, it is still a system) for kids when they don't get it at home. The answer is not to lock them up, annihilate them, or even fund bigger programs like Ceasefire. The ultimate message here, I think, is: raise your sons/daughters now, be involved, teach them something, you don't have to be perfect. If you don't someone else (or television) will, or else we will reap more of this kind of violence.

Let's make a difference in our homes. Be a mom and a dad. It is not sexy and won't make you rich, but it can stop this circle of violence.
Posted By Rob, New Bern, NC : 3:08 PM ET
BFD!!! They want to kill? Fine. Train them. Outfit them with guns and send them to Iraq. Let the good men and women of the United States come home and be with their loved ones. Let the gangs do the dirty work. Frankly I am sick and tired of the whole gang thing, If Iraq wont work for them then put them all on an island and drop some food and only the strong survive. Thats it. No more tax payer dollars for these losers.
Posted By Joy from Phoenix : 4:52 PM ET
The Lighthouse

Lone voyagers, across the seas,
Send the message,
Through the midst of passage,
Of wisdom untold and foretold,
Into the Lighthouse,
Borne by the guardians of the flame,
From the Lighthouse, to behold
Once more; to the open seas
Away I go!
Away, far away from the shipwreck shore,
Naked is Truth, by the light of this night.

Thank you CNN.
Posted By Anonymous : 1:32 PM ET
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