by John Kass | September 25, 2014 12:02 am
If Jimmy Fallon really wants to grab Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attention when he brings “The Tonight Show” to Chicago for another mutual ear-licking session, Jimmy might ask this:
When will Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson Sr. show up in Chicago to show Ferguson-style outrage over the assassination of 9-year-old Antonio Smith?
I don’t think Rahm will like that too much. And neither will Sharpton or Jackson.
But a little boy has been gunned down by Chicago street gangs — the shooter allegedly said, “I just hit a shorty, I just hit a shorty” — and there has been precious little national outrage over it.
There was plenty of televised outrage over the Ferguson, Missouri, death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, who was shot by a white cop.
But practically none over Antonio Smith, who just before he was killed argued with his mom because she wouldn’t give him a cupcake.
So maybe Fallon should have Anita Alvarez as his guest. She’s not a character on “The Good Wife” on CBS.
She’s the Cook County state’s attorney, handling all the murder and mayhem America hears about happening in President Barack Obama’s political hometown.
Alvarez picked up the phone Tuesday and we talked about Chicago, about Ferguson and about the lack of outrage here.
“I don’t understand why people aren’t as outraged when a young child like this is executed on a street,” Alvarez said.
I asked: I didn’t see Al or Jesse on the South Side, did you?
“I agree with you,” she said. “I think that’s wrong because it’s young children being killed in minority communities and these activists need to be just as vocal and just as outraged … as they are when there’s a police shooting.
“You and I don’t know exactly what happened down there in Ferguson. I know what’s been reported. But I don’t know the exact facts. None of us do. It’s sad — it’s a sad statement.”
Alvarez wasn’t pushing for a spot on “The Tonight Show.” She’s spent 28 years as a prosecutor in Chicago. It is a job that brings politics with it.
But Tuesday on the phone with me, she was angry. And she was pushing for stronger truth-in-sentencing laws applied to gangbangers convicted of gun crimes. An honest sentence would have kept Derrick Allmon, the alleged shooter in Antonio’s murder, in prison.
Instead he served only 20 months of a three-year sentence for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon by a gang member — meaning a gun was in his hand or on his body. He was on home electronic monitoring courtesy of the Illinois Department of Corrections, and he dutifully checked in after he allegedly shot the child.
Alvarez wants new laws toughening gun sentences for habitual criminals — not law-abiding gun owners — and wants gangbangers convicted of weapons violations to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.
“How many more children are going to be slaughtered on our streets by these gang members who are out running around — they’re carrying guns like they’re carrying cellphones?” Alvarez asked.
There was plenty of TV outrage over Michael Brown’s shooting. Sharpton and Jackson reveled in it. Activists even took to raising their hands as they say Brown did before he was shot.
Alvarez said Antonio was shot at least six times, in the chest, back, arm and hand.
But no crowds of protesters took to the streets in his memory.
There was a peace vigil on the South Side, and there was anger from the community. And the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church, offered a $13,500 reward for the arrest. The priest called the offer a “bounty.”
But there was little if any national political outrage, or national coverage. And without daily protests, looting or Sharpton’s showmanship, without those white college kids in their Guy Fawkes masks, Antonio Smith’s story died, too, for a time.
He was a black child allegedly killed by black gangsters, so the politics apparently weren’t right for outrage. And the loudest sound after Antonio died was of his mother, sobbing.
Four men with gang ties have been charged with murder. Allmon, the alleged triggerman, has a tattoo that says “Blessed” inked into his chest.
After their arrests, prosecutors said they made statements admitting their involvement. Video surveillance reportedly spotted their cars as they snaked down 71st Street, crossing from their turf on the east of the railroad viaduct just east of Kimbark Avenue.
To the east lives the Sircon City faction of the Gangster Disciples. To the west is the Pocket Town faction of the GDs. That’s where Antonio was killed.
Police said they were led to the alleged murder weapon by Allmon. They said he dropped it into a sewer.
Sources familiar with the investigation said Tuesday that the weapon found by police is a Russian-made Baikal .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun.
“We’ve seen those shootings when one gangbanger is shooting at another and the poor 2-year-old girl down the block gets killed,” Alvarez said, her voice rising in anger.
“This child was executed,” she said. “When you talk about the amount of bullets that went into him, I mean, he’s got six gunshot wounds of entrance. That’s not some stray bullet.”
Jimmy’s coming to Chicago for Rahm, and that’s national news. But the activists who flooded Ferguson and got their TV face time, where are they?
(John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune who also hosts a radio show on WLS-AM. His e-mail address is [email protected], and his Twitter handle is @john_kass.)
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