Citadel Chicago, Not Good News

In a simple one-word association, a citadel is a fortress. A fortress provides a physical defense from an invading force. The invading force could be a foreign army or even bandits, burglars, cutthroats, highwaymen, or mobs. In more theoretical terms, the invading force could be financial collapse. Last week, local billionaire Ken Griffin told other business leaders that the status of the Citadel Chicago headquarters of his investment firm was in jeopardy. Why? Because the response to violence and crime from the other citadel Chicago is failing. Quoting Griffin: “Chicago is like Afghanistan on a good day. And that’s a problem.”

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Citadel Chicago – A One Week Review

Hadleyvilles are not stable communities. When violence and lawlessness are major concerns, the damage to public safety extends quickly. Absent a well-functioning justice system that serves as a fortress against violence, a city declines. Lawless cities are not known for their parks, museums, cultural venues, or financial stability.

Four news items from last week standout relative to citadel Chicago. First, the warnings from Ken Griffin, the founder of “Citadel,” the investment firm. Second, yet again lawlessness caught on video, showing another shooting without accountability in a courthouse. Third, several Chicago alderman openly questioned public safety in the city. Fourth, columnist John Kass excoriated city leaders over Chicago’s violence. Taken together, the four items describe the city’s fortress against crime being overrun.

Griffin on Citadel, Chicago and Fortress Chicago

On 4 October 2021, Ken Griffin spoke before the Economic Club of Chicago. He is reported to be the wealthiest man in Illinois. His firm Citadel is one of the world’s largest investment firms, and the third most profitable hedge fund of all time.

Headquartered in Chicago, Citadel is a major contributor to the financial health of the city. Additionally, Griffin has given over one billion dollars to charitable and philanthropic efforts. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been given in the City of Chicago. The city’s museums, parks, and educational institutions have all received major funding from Griffin’s foundations and his personal giving. In just 2018, Griffin provided $10 million to the University of Chicago’s ULab project directly supporting anti-violence efforts of the Chicago Police Department (CPD).

In short, Griffin uses his “big money” in the “money talks” sense. His talking about pulling his corporate headquarters out of Chicago, causes others to take notice. With violence being a reason among his major concerns, Griffin’s consideration of moving is even more significant. Lawless cities do not have big financial backers. Well other than the kinds of “backers” one would not want to talk about.

The Griffin Interview

In his prior 2013 appearance at the Economic Club of Chicago (ECC), Griffin described a troubled Illinois and Chicago. He highlighted failing governmental institutions, financial mismanagement, public corruption, and crime as key issues.

Economic Club of Chicago: Kenneth C. Griffin, Founder & CEO, Citadel | Posted 4 Oct 2021 | The most relevant portions of the interview, concerning Chicago’s fortress against crime, start at minute 50:00.

Below are key quotes relative to public safety from his 4 October 2021 ECC interview:

Opening Griffin Update Assessment:

  • When asked his current assessment of Chicago and Illinois he responded: “The bottom line is its even worse” now (50:38).
    • “Since I last spoke, 25,000 of my fellow Chicagoans have been shot” (50:55).
  • “It is a disgrace that our governor will not insert himself into the challenge of addressing crime in our city. It is a disgrace” (51:08). He added: “We have a government in this state that continually puts votes in front of people. Votes in front of lives. Votes in front of schools” (52:10).
  • On what needs to be done, his response included: “We need to support our colleagues in public safety. Our police force” (53:18) “We need our police officers to know that they are also entitled to the benefits of being an American citizen. That you are innocent until proven guilty. It’s incredibly hard to do your job as a police officer, if the moment you have to protect yourself, you have to wonder, will you go to jail? Will you lose your job? Will you be publicly persecuted and humiliated, before any of the facts come forth? And that’s where you are as a Chicago police officer today, and it’s just wrong” (53:32-54:00).

More on Chicago Crime and Citadel Chicago

  • When asked why his business headquarters was “still in Chicago,” Griffin’s response included the following: “We aren’t as here in Chicago as much (as we were) in 2013. We now have more than a thousand people in New York. It’s become the center point of our hedge fund. Its becoming ever more difficult to have (Chicago) as our global headquarters, a city which has so much violence. I mean Chicago is like Afghanistan on a good day, and that’s a problem” (54:50-55:17).
  • On Chicago violence, he continued: “I probably have 25 bullet shots in the glass windows of the retail space of the building I live in. They tried to carjack the security detail that sits outside my house. That didn’t go so well for the carjacker. But, it just tells you like how deep crime runs in this city. There is nowhere, where you can feel safe today walking home at 9:30 at night. And, you worry about your kids going to and from school. That’s no way for our city to exist. And, its really hard to recruit people to Chicago, when they read the headlines, they know the facts. I can’t look people in the eye like I did 20 years ago. 20 years ago: ‘This is a great place to raise a family. This is a great place to call home.’ And, I could say this with a genuineness that resonated with people. They would bring their wives and children here, or their husbands as the case may be. I can’t give that same speech today. I can’t in good conscience” (55:20-55:47).
  • When asked specifically how long Citadel’s global headquarters will remain in Chicago, he responded: “It’s probably measured in years, not decades, if we don’t change course” (56:25).

Side Bar Note On Another Carjack Attempt

Ken Griffin in his ECC interview mentioned a carjacking attempt of his security team outside his Chicago home. This is an experience he shares with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. While only making the news last week, the incident occurred on 27 September 2021 in front of Preckwinkle’s home. Carjackers attempted to take an unmarked police vehicle containing a member of her security detail. The incident erupted in gunfire, alarming area residents.

ABC7 Chicago: Toni Preckwinkle’s security detail targeted by carjackers in Hyde Park | 7 Oct 2021

No Charges in North Austin Shootout

A new round of political wrestling broke open in the media starting on last Monday, 4 October 2021. At issue, yet another brazen shooting in the city, with no one facing charges in court.

The shooting occurred on Friday, 1 October 2021. Over the weekend, prosecutors working under Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx rejected all felony charges in the case. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot publicly criticized the state’s attorney at a Monday news conference. The shooting was yet another highly-visible lawless moment in Chicago.

  • The incident occurred in broad daylight in the 1200 block of North Mason Avenue about 10:30 a.m.
  • Police officers spotted four people exit two vehicles and begin shooting at a home at the Mason address.
  • Police POD camera surveillance video also captured the shooting.
  • One person was killed, and two others wounded.
  • More than 70 shots were fired in the gang-related incident.
  • Police arrested and sought murder charges on five participants in the incident.
  • Prosecutors cited “mutual combat,” as their rationale in rejecting charges.

Criticism from the Mayor and City Officials

As reported by WGN News, the political fallout from the rejection of charges extended into the City Council chamber. At the 4 October 2021 Budget Committee Hearing, Alderman Michelle Smith asked CPD Superintendent David Brown about the “impact of a failure to charge anything.” Superintendent Brown replied: “Lawlessness is the impact. Lawlessness.”

WGN News: Lightfoot disappointed by prosecutors’ refusal to file charges in deadly West Side shootout | 4 Oct 2021

Despite Mayor Lightfoot’s public criticism of the state’s attorney, she deflected from answering tougher questioning regarding State’s Attorney Foxx. This even as the mayor expressed concerns about increased brazenness and violence in the city. As a reminder, Mayor Lightfoot had endorsed Ms. Foxx for reelection in 2020.

Forbes Breaking News: Lori Lightfoot Slams Prosecutor Kim Foxx For Refusing To Press Charges Over Deadly Shooting | 7 Oct 2021.

Response from the County’s Chief Prosecutor

State’s Attorney Foxx held her own press conference. She responded with her own public criticism of the mayor. Foxx claimed there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges. She framed criticism of her office as a deflection from the city’s lack of a “comprehensive violence plan.” Clips of the actual shooting are included in this report from ABC7 news.

ABC7 Chicago: Kim Foxx calls Mayor Lightfoot comments on shooting case ‘wrong’ | 6 Oct 2021

Alderman Openly Questioning Public Safety in Chicago

During the City Council Budget Committee meeting, criticism from aldermen was not confined to prosecutors. As is not uncommon, several alderman used the hearing to comment on public safety issues. With violence continuing at levels far above 2019, some of the questioning of Superintendent Brown was pointed. The Chicago Sun-Times included the following:

Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th Ward) described the city as being in the midst of a “public safety crisis,” with Chicago being “the most dangerous city in the country.” Citing murders year-to-date being up 57% and shootings up 67% from 2019, the alderman also noted 334 juvenile shooting victims already this year. O’Shea described this year’s count as the highest number of juvenile shooting victims in the “history of record-keeping” in Chicago. O’Shea also noted, “the overwhelming majority of elected officials who have office space in this building endorsed the state’s attorney.”

Ald. Harry Osterman (48th Ward): “I cannot remember a time in my lifetime that it has been as violent as it is right now. … Most people I know feel that our city is out of control when it comes to safety.”

Superintendent Brown both acknowledged officer morale is at record lows, and praised the efforts of his officers. He cited more than 9,400 gun seizures so far this year, and increased carjacking-related arrests. The department is down officers, and recruitment efforts have significant challenges. See the report from WGN News.

WGN News: City council grills CPD on budget usage amid rising crime, low police morale | 4 Oct 2021

John Kass Excoriates City Leaders

On 7 October 2021, President Joseph Biden was in Chicago to push his Covid agenda. Columnist John Kass, in an article printed in the New York Post, declared that Covid was not the crisis in Chicago. Kass wrote the president needed to be told violence was the problem killing Chicagoans. He noted: “More than 600 people have been murdered already this year, and thousands upon thousands shot, in a dying city, in a failing, corrupt county, in the worst-run state in the nation.”

Quoting Kass: “The criminal-justice system is broken, minority poor are overwhelmingly the victims of violent Chicago crime, but now even downtown becomes a war zone and no neighborhood is safe. People in all neighborhoods, and tourists with money to spend, are afraid to walk the streets at night or drive lest they’re carjacked, and on Chicago expressways some 185 people have been shot this year.”

The Kass column is blunt in its assessment of the city’s political party in power, the same party holding power in struggling cities around the country. The column is discouraging relative to the future. Politics are tied to the violence that exploded in 2020. Kass noted: “Police were demonized, assaulted and seriously injured. The sense of lawlessness in urban America grew. And unlike the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters, most of the violent (offenders) in Chicago and other Democratic urban centers were excused.

Citadel Chicago and Hadleyville

Neither Griffin nor Kass make the connection between Chicago and Hadleyville. But they are both places where gunman are far too comfortable roaming the streets. Both Griffin and Kass make a connection to lawlessness placing the future of Chicago in jeopardy. In the end of his ECC interview, Griffin notes that in healthy cities the business community plays a key civic role. Secure 1776 would say that the community itself, including its business leaders, must form a citadel of public safety. A fortress against those who engage in crime and violence. Last week, it was again clear the citadel in Chicago is in need of urgent repair.

Not Familiar with the Hadleyville Reference?

As an introduction to our discussion on “Hadleyvilles,” Secure 1776 continues to recommend reading the article entitled, “It’s High Noon for American Policing,” by Thomas Lemmer. We also recommend two other articles from Lemmer. First, “The Importance of “Us:” The Failure of Being Cast as Them.” Second,“Tragedy-Free Policing or Else: The Need for Critical Thinking.” Finally, we recommend reading our other “in the news” posts with the Hadleyville tag.


We are interested in your thoughts, and invite you to comment below.

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