Faith leaders call on Chicago to pass 'moral budget' with $100M for gun violence prevention

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As Chicago leaders work towards a budget deal for next year, some religious leaders are calling on them to pass a "moral budget."

The coalition of faith and community leaders gathered Thursday morning to demand a budget that tackles things like gun violence, poverty and environmental issues.

"To challenge our officials to be sure that the city's checkbook cares about the least, the lost and the left out," Rev. Dr. Charlie Dates, Progressive Baptist Church.

"I'm not alone in being really angry at our mayor about the state of our budget and everything we've heard tonight about disinvestment and economic apartheid," said Rabbi Seth Limmer, Chicago Sinai Congregation.

They want $100 million allocated to gun violence prevention. The effort comes on the eve of Mayor Lori Lightfoot's proposed $16.7 billion budget for 2022, with roughly $1.9 billion of that slated for policing.

"That can reduce the $1 billion that we are spending because someone has been shot and killed in our city," said Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Trinity United Church.

"Policing will not change the violence," said Rev. Dr. Beth Brown, Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church. "What will change violence is investment in, for one thing, mental health care."

The group was woven together by community group Live Free, and their belief that the issues of gun violence, poverty, and the effects of trauma are connected.

"We have churches on every single block and what are churches filled with? Community members, people who are voting," said Artinese Myrick, organizer of Live Free Chicago.

The pastors are calling on churches to step up and the community to call out politicians who don't support neighborhood reinvestment.

"I want the aldermen, too. We know who you are and we know where your office is," said Rev. Janette Wilson, Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

The coalition of faith leaders said they will now reach out to their aldermen and the community to get support for their moral budget plan. They said they also plan to be present when the 2022 City of Chicago budget is presented next week.
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