We've seen new laws passed, businesses closed, abandoned buildings shuttered, and private organizations funded, all as various creative strategies to combat the endemic rise in Chicago's murder rate. Now, the Nation of Islam, led by Louis Farrakhan, is joining the war on violence, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
On Monday, the Nation of Islam's paramilitary wing, the Fruit of Islam, descended upon the violence-ridden Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, dressed in their trademark suits and bowties. The Islamic army formed a "human wall of protection" to guard against any outbreaks of gunfire. They also went door to door, preaching peace.
Despite their leader's checkered past with the Jewish religion, the group has gained the verbal support of many in the city, including Chicago's Jewish Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Fraternal Order of Police. Their stance has essentially been to support anything that might help to curb the violence.
What's clear, however, is that, unlike CeaseFire, they probably won't receive any funding to assist in their efforts. The Fraternal Order of Police opposed the CeaseFire alliance and funding because CeaseFire hires former felons and does not share information with the police. The NOI has no such policies.
If the city does decide to fund the efforts, they'll likely run into some major constitutional issues. The city cannot fund a religious organization that is going door to door - and likely preaching religious beliefs in the process - without violating the Establishment Clause. The Constitution prohibits the establishment of a religion by the State. That also applies to funding pro-religious activities. So, no matter how effective the NOI may end up being, they'll probably have to rely on their own funding, or charitable contributions, to support their efforts.
With or without support from the City of Chicago, the NOI plans on continuing with their displays of force and protests against violence. The Sun-Times reports that they plan on sending 500 members to South Shore in the near future.
- Consult a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney (FindLaw)
- Farrakhan Takes To Streets For Peace In Chicago Neighborhoods (CBS Chicago)
- An Update on Chi's Attempts to Combat Rising Gang Violence (FindLaw's Chicago Criminal Law Blog)
- Ain't No Thing as a Stray Bullet, 10-year-old Shot in Drive-by (FindLaw's Chicago Criminal Law Blog)