After watching the last series of smash-and grab-looting in various cities, it left me wondering what is going on and why don’t local governments do something meaningful to stop the looting. During the riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, I was in the Illinois Air National Guard and we were called up to help secure the city. Our orders were very clear on our rules of engagement; it was made clear to us that we were to shoot to maim looters and to shoot to kill arsonist. We were instructed that looting and arson were not to be allowed and our duty was to stop looting and acts of arson, because if looting and arson went unchecked, there would be a complete breakdown of civil authority. Even with these rules in effect, much of the South and West side business districts were destroyed. Even today, you can go down 63rd Street and see that much of the old business district between Wentworth and Racine avenues have never been rebuilt to the level they enjoyed before the riots. I saw neighborhoods that I knew well as a child completely obliterated and many of the small businesses along Halsted Street from 59th to 79th streets turned into ashes and vacant lots. The South and West side business districts that thrived in my youth were gone and the people who currently live in those areas have lost a very important part of their economy. Along with the larger two black communities in Chicago, other areas also were impacted by the ’68 riots including the dynamic Jewish community that was just adjacent to the South Side area. There was a large Jewish community that ran from Stoney Island Avenue to 75th and South Shore Avenue on the Southeast side of the city. It was the second largest Jewish area in Chicago and, immediately following the riots, that community fled the area and moved to the far north part of the city and the suburbs, leaving a once-thriving community behind that has never completely recovered as a result. After the riots, many demands were made by the people who were left behind who wanted the city and businesses to rebuild in the areas where the riots happened. These were good people who watched in horror as their community went up in flames. But because of the looting and arson that took place over a five- or six-day period, no major business like Sears, Montgomery Ward, Fish Furniture, the two major 5&10 stores and many minor businesses — including movie theaters, restaurants and small shops of all kinds that once employed thousands of local people — never came back. As a result of the rioting, the economy of much of Chicago’s South, West and East sides never recovered and to this day are the poorest neighborhoods in the city. That brings us to today and the unfettered looting and, in some cities, nonstop arson that is almost encouraged by local politicians and the media. I watch this and can only feel for the people left behind to pick up the pieces of their communities and cities, knowing full well that their communities and cities will never recover. When I watch mobs running rampant, looting stores and businesses, while the local politicians and media stand by idly, I can only wonder why. Whoever thought rioting, arson and looting were constructive ways to express your outrage over any issue is as crazy as crazy can be. Who thinks this free-for-all looting of businesses by organized mobs will in any way be beneficial to anyone, whether it be the locals or the people committing these crimes? It seems we are witnessing the collapse of civil authority in many of our cities, and I don’t think the looting will stop at the urban edge, but will spread to every corner of the country. If we allow this breakdown of civil authority, we will only have ourselves to blame when society completely breaks down and the mob becomes the law instead of the outlaws. When I watch mobs running rampant, looting and burning our business districts and neighborhoods, I can only wonder if these mobs become our rulers, what will they do then? Will the country turn into a society ruled by violence and fear, where no citizen is safe from the mob? I wonder why we are permitting these mobs to have a place in our society. Why are we encouraging the worst portion of society to have a foothold in our society? Why won’t our politicians crush this movement that if unchecked, will bring down our society? Why isn’t the media being honest in its depiction of what is happening ,and why doesn’t it call for the cessation of rioting and looting? Why don’t our politicians call for the suppression of the rioting and looting with all the force that they can bring to bear against the rioters and looters? Until we stop the rioting and looting, we will never feel or be safe from the mob. Until we stop the civil breakdown now happening in the country, we will not have peace in our society. Until we stop the mob, we will never have an opportunity to address the problems that have permitted the mob to thrive while our cities, suburbs and towns burn and are looted. Only when we convince our leaders to stop the mob will we ever be able to live in a society free from fear. It’s up to us to demand that the mob be stopped. If we don’t demand this from our politicians, our politicians will continue to appease the mob. History has repeatedly shown that once the mob gains control of a society, that society is destroyed and never recovers. If that is the fate that we are willing to accept, then we better get prepared for the calamity that will surely follow once the mob gets complete control over the country.

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