Democrats Are Siding With Criminals Over Their Victims. They're Destroying Our Communities | Opinion

There is an obvious truth that I increasingly feel the need to say out loud: We are all American citizens. We are all entitled to the same rights and protections, no matter where we live or what the color of our skin is. The reason I feel the need to say it is that on the South Side of Chicago where I live and minister, it's not obvious.

And this is despite the fact that we are literally drowning in race these days. In the two years since George Floyd was murdered, we have had the Black Lives Matter movement, the Defund the Police movement, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion movement, and the movement to remove ACT and SAT tests, stripping schools of honors classes and wasting valuable time on white privilege instead of educating our kids upward. The latest is the SAFE-T Act, which would abolish the cash bail system.

These movements have all been pushed by elites in the name of helping Blacks, but not one of these people has ever visited my neighborhood to ask what we think.

It's almost like we have no say, like we are some sort of a social experiment, pawns without minds of our own.

That's why Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker's championing of the SAFE-T Act is such an insult. The Governor claims that his plan will make our city safer and more equitable. Sounds like a nice, sweet sentiment, doesn't it? But what about the minorities in my neighborhood who suffer some of the worst violence in America? Don't we matter?

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Tears run down the face of Wentworth Gardens resident Tunyona Frazier as she talks about violence in the housing complex while police investigate a crime scene where three people were shot at the complex on June 23, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. A 24-year-old man died from injuries he suffered in the shooting and two others, a 22-year-old male and a 25-year-old male, were seriously wounded. Scott Olson/Getty Images

This Democratic governor who descends from one of America's richest families will never have to see the realities of his actions on the ground. But my community will.

It is unfortunate, but thanks to decades of failed liberal policies, many of our impoverished, abysmally educated youths resort to violence. And when they do, they prey on us, American citizens who are just trying to live our lives and make the world a better place.

One of those people is my friend Carol Claudio, who works at my non-profit community center, Project H.O.O.D. (Helping Others Obtain Destiny). She was recently carjacked and had a gun pointed at her face. She truly feared for her life, because mercy is on a short supply these days in my neighborhood.

"I felt violated and helpless," Carol told me. "The police were called five times and never showed up, which made me feel as if I didn't matter. I can't even image the persons who did this not being held accountable for their actions, and being let out just to do it to someone else."

Pastor Corey Brooks in Chicago
Pastor Corey Brooks in Chicago.

It is Governor Pritzker's job to protect Carol and countless others who are overcoming incredible odds for their shot at the American Dream. Yet he plans to make them less safe, to make that dream an impossibility.

And he can hardly plead ignorance; he knows that we have had over 500 murders so far this year, over 1,500 cases of sexual assault, over 6,400 robberies, 15,000 thefts, 13,000 car thefts. And his solution is to make things more equitable for criminals who happen to be minorities?

Down here, we don't see them as minorities. We see them for what they are: criminals who must be removed from our neighborhood so that we may have peace to go to the store, to school, or church.

I say all of these things as someone who believes in rehabilitation with all my heart. For the last 10 years, Project H.O.O.D. has been rehabbing citizens fresh out of prison. Our neighborhood receives more than half of all the prisoners released in Chicago every year, and we strive to meet them all and offer them a pathway to the American Dream.

I asked my new friend, Pierre Blakney, what he thought of the Governor's new plan. Pierre was recently released from prison and he is working at our community center to prevent youngsters from following his path.

"I ended up in prison for making bad choices," Pierre told me. "I was trying to make fast and easy money to provide for my family, so I sold drugs and to protect myself, I carried a weapon." To Pierre, the thought of free bail "sounds real good from the criminal mindset because anything short of murder or treason, I know I will be right back on the streets without having to post bail. It will only lead me to committing more crimes because I haven't learned my lesson from the first crime. There was no accountability, nor any jail time, for me to reflect on my actions."

What Pierre did not mention was that his victims were mostly minorities—the very ones that our governor ignores completely.

My community has had to do what it can to take matters into our own hands. In the end, we will be the ones to end the violence, change the culture from bad faith to good faith. We will make the South Side thrive again.

We certainly can't rely on Democratic politicians to do it for us.

I recently saw a tweet quoting a lesson from the ancient Midrash that describes our leaders so effectively: "He who is compassionate to the cruel will ultimately become cruel to the compassionate."

As American citizens we must place our compassion in the right place and it is only then that true and lasting change will begin.

Pastor Corey B. Brooks, founder and Senior Pastor of New Beginnings Church of Chicago and founder and CEO of Project H.O.O.D. For the past year, he has been living on the rooftop of shipping containers to raise money to fight crime and make his neighborhood safe with a community center. He has raised $20 million and will break ground later this month. You can donate here.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.