It's a heartbreaking inscription, demonstrating a desperate plea for city officials to focus much needed resources and care toward an otherwise vital, yet government-neglected community resource such as a city park. Sadly, this is a battle some residents don't feel they can win by doing as any other active citizens would, through writing or calling their elected or appointed officials.
I suppose it would be harsh and unfeeling to suggest that the residents volunteer to do the work necessary to restore the park themselves. Victims have to wait passively for somebody to save them. It's the rule.
The city of Chicago has no money. It doesn't even have a Federal Reserve with a printing press to cover its deficit spending. It takes money from taxpayers -- people who spend their time working and maintaining their own homes, businesses and properties -- to fund city services.
The facts are heartbreaking, but these are not the facts about which Derrick Clifton writes. Residents of these blighted areas are generally the reason they are blighted. Not all those who live around Kelvyn Park are thugs and thieves, gangbangers and graffiti artists, but many are, living on welfare, in public housing, paying nothing into the system, only drawing it down parasitically.
Not only do the residents contribute nothing to help maintain public services and public properties, in many cases they actively destroy them: trashing, stealing, and maliciously, gleefully breaking things simply because they can. Put up a new basketball hoop, and it gets ripped down in a day. New structures have the windows shattered and spray painted with obscenities and gang signs.
This is a true story from a public housing project area in St. Louis back in the late '60s or early '70s. Tired of repeatedly replacing a broken window on the street level of a public building, the authorities installed a Plexiglass pane. A group of young public housing residents wandered by and spotted the new, undamaged window. One of the boys immediately found a brick, walked up and hurled it at the window, only to be confounded when the brick bounced off harmlessly. If you are picturing the humanoids encountering the Monolith from 2001, you have captured, I suspect, the essence of the scene. Ah, but, these were not humanoids. They were full-fledged, problem-solving homo sapiens. Unable to break the window, they used whatever they could find to scratch the plastic until the transparency was destroyed.
No doubt, afterward, some decent, intelligent people like Mr. Clifton walked by and shook their heads at the fact that such an eyesore would be allowed by the authorities to remain. Surely it is another sign of institutional racism.