SOUTH DEERING — Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said while they welcome the Rev. Al Sharpton's presence in Chicago to study gun violence, the city's police are already addressing the problem.
Sharpton is renting an apartment in Austin and said he plans to commute to Chicago from his New York home at least once a week as he studies ways to combat gun violence in Chicago and nationally.
"I want to meet with any activists willing to work with me on this problem of gun violence," Sharpton said.
Beale said that while he welcomes suggestions from Sharpton, "I am not going to allow somebody to come in a couple days and think they are going to make a difference and then leave us with the problems we are faced with every single day."
When asked at a news conference Monday at Olive-Harvey College about Sharpton coming to town, Emanuel said guns and gun trafficking is the real problem, and noted Chicago confiscates more illegal firearms than other big cities.
"We take more guns off the street than either New York and L.A., which is why I am pushing for our guns laws to be the deterrent that they need to be," Emanuel said.
"The weak link for us is guns and gun trafficking that comes into the city," Emanuel said. "My No. 1 priority is to make sure there are enough police on the streets in getting kids, guns and drugs off the street."
Beale said he is in his ward every day working with police to improve the quality of life for residents.
"So if somebody wants to come and help decrease violence, we are going to support that. But at the same time we are not going to have someone come in and upstage what we are already trying to do," Beale said.
One community activist said Sharpton's presence could be what is needed to unify everyone involved in fighting gun violence.
"Al Sharpton could be the very person to help unify the many different leaders in Chicago," said Tio Hardiman, former director of CeaseFire Illinois, an anti-crime organization. "Al Sharpton stated that he wanted to illuminate the leaders and organizations that are currently working to reduce violence. [But] he never stated that he had all of the answers or resources."