CHATHAM — Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson on Thursday helped kickoff a violence prevention initiative to promote safety in Chicago neighborhoods during the summer months.
"Nobody gets a pass in working with our kids," said Emanuel. "We have to work together this Memorial Day."
He joined residents, community, faith and business leaders to launch the 3rd Annual Summer of Faith and Action, a citywide initiative designed to promote safety throughout Chicago in the summer months. Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) and Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) were present. The group called on people throughout the city to join in a series of anti-violence activities — or create one of their own — on May 27 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
On that day residents and community leaders are encouraged to gather together on street corners in their communities in an effort to show solidarity across Chicago and to create a safer and more peaceful city, the mayor's office said.
Emanuel said that there is not one solution to ending the violence, but it's crucial that everyone work together. He referred to what he calls the "5 P's:" pastors, police, parents, principals and public officials, saying that all those groups must collaborate if there is going to be change.
Police Supt., Eddie Johnson said the police can't solve the violence problem alone.
"We need our [residents] to take back the community," he said, "and it starts at home."
Both he and Emanuel said that's where good values are learned.
"Parents have the responsibility to teach their kids the difference between right and wrong," Emanuel said, but it's up to the school system to reinforce those values.
He brought up 16-year-old De'Kayla Dansberry, and the 13-year-old girl who has been charged with murder. The girl's mother allegedly gave her daughter a knife and also faces murder charges.
Beale said the problem is that not enough people are stepping up and taking action.
"It’s easy to come out here and point fingers, but what are you actually doing of substance to make a difference in your community, that’s where the community is falling short," he said. "Everybody has to chip in, everybody has to do their fair share."
He said in the 9th Ward, he has seen an overall decline in crime, down 24% and 44% for violent crimes. He attributes job creation, which he said his ward has seen more of thanks to stores like Walmart. Beale also said a Whole Foods distribution center in the community would bring even more jobs.
Brandon McNeil, 21, of Chatham said the problem is the current culture and a lack of positive male role models. But he said the larger community has the solution.
"Growing up, a lot of males don't have fathers in their life, so they don't have a role model," he said. "The block is their role model, where they grew up, their environment, what they see, that's what they're going to pick up. It's like a language. If you around Spanish, you'll pick up Spanish. It's about where you grew up and what's going on around you."
Leonard Muhammad is with the Nation of Islam. He brought his 6-year-old grandson to the press conference he said because he wants him to grow up in safer Chicago.
"I would like him to grow up in city where differences are settled in a more civilized manner," said the South Shore resident. "We have thousands of rounds of bullets that didn't come from police guns."
Muhammad said he agreed with the mayor that the summer initiatives were a good step towards bringing down the city's violence.
"I think everything you do, every time you do something, it’s a good thing," he said. "It’s going to take a lot of different efforts, not just one. I don’t think we can judge any effort as thought it’s not worth it, because we have to do something."
To register to hold an event, contact MayorRSVP@cityofchicago.org or call 312-744-1718. The city asks organizers include the following information when registering: date(s), start time and end time of the event, host name or organization, description of the event (barbeque, rally, prayer, games etc.) location of the event with zip code, contact name and phone number. There is more news and updates on Twitter about Faith and Action under the hashtag #PutTheGunsDown
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