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What's the best way to destroy a great city?

A retired colleague recently sent me a May 28, 2018 internet article published by CWBChicago, captioned "Downtown: Overworked cops battling Mag Mile (Magnificent Mile) fights, mayhem through weekend."

Along with the article, my colleague advised that he was "unable to offer a workable solution that would be consistent with due process or any other measure allowed under our law." He asked for my solution.

My first question was, what is CWBChicago?

It states that it is an organization "created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown, fed up with the inaccurate information provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. ... robberies in our neighborhood had been soaring. Yet city representatives at CAPS meetings continually claimed that crime was going down."

That article details some 64 police calls over the May 28, 2018 Memorial Day weekend: e.g., Saturday: 8:39 p.m. -- 70 or 80 teens coming off the Chicago Red Line. “Tell Water Tower to close their doors; otherwise, they gotta let ‘em in;” 8:42 p.m. -- Fights behind the historic Water Tower. Crowd: 200 people, per dispatcher; 8:44 p.m., -- “Water Tower is closed. There’s one door open so people can exit.”

That same article contains internet links to four videos showing graphic mob violence perpetrated by youthful gangs along and about the Magnificent Mile or Michigan Avenue, from the Chicago River to Oak Street. It is Chicago’s premier commercial district and home to upscale shops, luxe fashion outlets, fine restaurants, posh hotels, as well as the historic Chicago Water Tower, Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building and John Hancock Center.

So what is my solution? Frankly, I haven't got one. At least not one consistent with our traditional notions of due process, and the Eighth Amendment prohibitions of "cruel and unusual punishment."

Our judicial system is simply not equipped to deal with mob violence. If you arrest the 200 people engaged in the fight behind Water Tower, and each demands a jury trial, the system grinds to a halt.

Each defendant will claim indigence, and 200 lawyers will have to be appointed. And each attorney will file a blizzard of motions to defend his client. Each attorney will have to interview all named witnesses, and confer with his client.

Assuming each attorney spends just 50 hours defending his client and is paid $50 per hour for his services, the county will receive bills totaling $500,000 for attorneys fees. If the attorneys are paid $100 per hour, double that.

If convicted, probation will do virtually nothing to deter future violence. Imprisonment will at least deter the criminal from engaging in mob violence during the period of his imprisonment, but at an annual cost of about $38,000 to the taxpayers.

"Boot camp" costs about half as much. But the National Institute of Justice says that while the camps generally produce some positive behavioral changes, "these changes did not translate into reduced recidivism." My friend says he once thought that putting them in the army might be a solution.

"From my experience in Vietnam (as a line officer), I came to the rapid conclusion based on experience that placing these little (expletive deleted) in the military is about the worst conceivable idea ever placed in my pea-sized brain," he said, adding, "Individuals who are screw-offs in the civilian world are even bigger screw-offs in the military where they have access to even more powerful weapons than they carried in the real world. In combat, having even one of these jerks in your unit provided a risk that their action or failure to act would get someone wounded or killed."

So short of providing every street cop with a cat-o'-nine tails, and authorizing him to mete out clearly unconstitutional summary justice on the spot, I have no workable solution.

When you couple this gang violence, with the decriminalization of shoplifting of loot valued at less than $950 (e.g. California), toleration of tent cities for the homeless such as those in the heart of Los Angeles, and when you provide free drugs and needles to addicts, you have the perfect recipe for the destruction of taxpaying business districts in America's great cities.

And you can easily accelerate the destruction by instructing your police to stand down while Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and street gangs destroy business districts and terrorize shoppers, store owners and  employees, without police intervention.

Simply put, who in their right mind wants to shop where he has to navigate makeshift tents, strewn garbage, discarded needles, and shoplifters, all the while avoiding violent street gangs and Antifa violence?

John Donald O'Shea of  Moline is a retired circuit court judge.

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