Rep. Bobby Rush summons 'A-list' of leaders for anti-violence summit

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Rush summons leaders for anti-violence summit
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With only a few days' notice, Rep. Bobby Rush was able to summon an "A-list" of leaders to discuss ways to reduce violence in his district and throughout Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Politicians and community leaders came together Wednesday to talk about ways to stop gun violence. The violence summit was organized by Illinois congressman Bobby Rush, who was angered by the recent shooting death of a Chicago high school teacher on the South Side.

Give Bobby Rush this much: with only a few days' notice, he was able to summon an "A-list" of leaders to discuss ways to reduce violence in his district and throughout Chicago.

"We were not finger-pointing, we were holding hands," said Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Chicago.

Congressman Rush said this summit was different because it involved business leaders who could do something about the staggering unemployment in this violence-wracked part of his district.

"Many of the leading businesses in Chicago were here today and are very committed to supporting this community and its growth," said Ann Promaggiore, CEO, Commonwealth Edison.

"We need to focus on jobs and economic development if we're really going to deal with the violence in our neighborhoods," said Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County president.

"And talking about how to re-establish a sense of community. This was, I think, a very good discussion," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Some of the politicians left before the news conference ended and probably did not notice 21-year-old Darren Gordon as he stood jobless on rainy 79th Street.

"I'll take anything right now to be honest," said Gordon.

Gordon, a high school graduate with a child due in August, says his job search is stifled by, as he put it, his "background."

"The majority of the places that you go and look for work they're not trying to hire certain people," said Gordon.

"We have young men who have records and we have to be able to get past some of those barriers to put people on a path to employment," said Karin Norington-Reaves, Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership.

Back at the news conference, a reporter reminded Rush that exactly one year ago Wednesday, the congressman and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk joined in an effort to reduce gang violence.

Rush reminded the reporter that as far back as 2006 he convened an even earlier anti-violence summit.

"I've always been taught this. If we don't (succeed) the first time then keep on trying, don't give up," said Rep. Rush.

Congressman Rush said this summit will re-convene as work groups to continue the effort focused immediately on finding summer jobs for young people.

In recent years, this kind of effort has become a rite of late spring-early summer as Chicago tries to avoid the worst of warmer weather violence.