By: Valerie Machorro
No-man’s land, a place that many of us think of in reference to an old gangster movie or an eerie action thriller where the whole town is controlled by the ominous Big Brother. Unbeknownst to most Americans, we live in a country where a form of No-Go zones exists. A No-Go zone is an area, commonly a town, that is cut off from civil authorities and unsafe for non-residents. These zones can be controlled by a strict religious organization or tyrant gang lords that essentially take over the town. Within the United States these No-Go zones can be defined by limited police involvement, a high concentration of minority races, and a transformed culture that is physically isolated from its host city or area.[i] The knowledge that these areas exist can be shocking, but what it is more alarming is the little amount of national news coverage on them and the abundance of these zones within our own borders. Yet they have become essentially nonexistent on our social radar.
When researching this topic, it is evident how extremely biased American news is against Muslims. The internet is also filled with opinion-based blogs written by anti-Muslim radicals. It is difficult to distinguish whether the information is the truth or just a myth. During the recent presidential election there has been an increased focus on the Islamic Shari’Ah-controlled No-Go zones, yet these are specifically and exclusively found in Europe. Ted Cruz resorted to mentioning European No-Go zones in an attempt to support his “domestic agenda” stating in the New York Daily News, “Terrorists have exploited these isolated enclaves to recruit followers, formulate plots and orchestrate attacks.”[ii] . The United States has some primarily Muslim-dominant towns. However, these are significantly less violent than those that can be found Europe. Many functioning like Hamtramck, a small town near Detroit, Michigan, that recently nominated a full Muslim city council.[iii] Online critics claim this type of Muslim dominated towns are dangerous, for the sake of clarity these are not considered No-Go zones since they are not strictly controlled by a private party outside of civil authority.
Gang No-Go zones exist as well. The city of Chicago has 59 gangs, and within those, there are 625 factions (4). Every year the Chicago Police Department releases The Gang Book, which outlines the territory these gangs control. Some of these territories, found on the map below, appear to be as large as entire neighborhoods or as small as a city block. Chief Roti of the Department claimed, “‘We don’t want to either glorify a gang or maybe unintentionally cause a gang rift…You [a gang member] could look at a map and say, “They got way more territory than us”’” (4).
The danger of reporting No-Go zones to the public may be why this topic is undiscussed in national news coverage. Although these are not officially called “No-Go zones,” police from this department claim that they cannot enter many of these districts without being directly shot at or attacked. [iv]. Chief Roti and many of the inhabitants of Chicago fear these No-Go zones. But as Michael Cutler explains, a former agent of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, “Big cases- big problems; Little cases- little problems; No cases- no problems!”, and thus is why these types of “small” gang controlled areas continue to exist.
No-Go zones, whether religious or gang related, exist within the United States. It is important to distinguish these from minority controlled areas and towns, from their violent and oppressing counterpart’s. For places like Chicago it is a citizen’s right to know if they are in danger. For those living near by a dangerous religious compound, there deserves to be police involvement. No matter the size of the problem. For students, professors, and professionals, it is our duty to stay informed especially during this time of increased terroristic attacks and gun violence.
[i] Cutler, M. (2016, March 31). Terrorism, Enclaves and Sanctuary Cities. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from http://www.rightsidenews.com/us/homeland-security/terrorism-enclaves-and-sanctuary-cities
[ii] Benen, S. (2016, March 30). Ted Cruz resorts to rhetoric about ‘no-go zones’ Retrieved March 31, 2016, from http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/ted-cruz-resorts-rhetoric-about-no-go-zones
[iii] Hohman, L. H. (15, October 11). Shariahville, USA: Cities ‘surrender’ to Islam. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from http://www.wnd.com/2015/11/u-s-cities-surrendering-to-shariah
[iv] Ramos, E. (2016, February 29). In Chicago, gangs abound, but where are they? Retrieved March 31, 2016, from https://www.wbez.org/shows/wbez-news/in-chicago-gangs-abound-but-where-are-they/0d956c2e-171a-483a-8666-f5228d98812d