Community leaders call on Gov. Pritzker to issue State of Emergency for Chicago violence

Cook County allocates $1.5M to fighting crime

Thursday, July 8, 2021
Preckwinkle pledges $1M to fight violence, pastors want state of emergency
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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle pledged a $1 million dollar investment to combat violence in Chicago and Cook County.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The search for solutions to Chicago gun violence weighs heavily on elected officials in Cook County.

The county announced a $1.5 million investment Thursday through the Justice Advisory Council, aimed at addressing the root causes of crime and violence in underserved communities.

"The investment that we're making today is a down payment for Cook County's overarching strategy aimed at reimagining public safety and criminal justice," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Preckwinkle, along with several elected officials and community leaders from the North Lawndale employment network, gathered Thursday to launch a summer-long campaign to infuse the money into community organizations that work to help people at the ground level be successful in the workplace.

Preckwinkle criticized some of the blame game that has been going on this week after 100 people were shot in Chicago over the holiday weekend. She's also calling the violence a public health crisis.

"We cannot police our way out of this crisis," she said. "Some may look at our problems surrounding violent crime and deflect or point fingers that Superintendent Brown did earlier this week. We stand committed to continuing to work toward real solutions to the issues that we're seeing in our neighborhoods."

Of the $1.5 million, $180,000 will go to help a pair of organizations working in North Lawndale, with the goal of using outreach workers to intentionally connect at-risk people with job training and other resources to steer them away from crime.

"What we want to do is to say you're talented and you have value, here are some basic skills that we're going to equip you with and then turn those into, transform those into traditional work experiences," said Brenda Palms Barber, president of the N. Lawndale Employment Network.

Preckwinkle greeted President Joe Biden on the tarmac at O'Hare airport Wednesday when he visited the area, thanking him for the federal help with the county's vaccination effort.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot also greeted the president, talking to him about the federal help that will be arriving soon -- special teams that will be dispatched to help tackle gun violence in Chicago and across the country.

But Thursday morning, a group of aldermen and activists gathered in front of City Hall, saying safety starts with funding the community.

"If Lori Lightfoot actually cares about the Black and brown residents of Chicago, she is going to make sure that money is invested and put into the pockets of the Black and brown residents of Chicago," Alycia Kamil said.

There are some local pastors who said they want to do more to help with the violence problem. They held a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Chicago community leaders call for state of emergency to combat crime

Chicago's exploding gun violence now has community leaders calling for a State of Emergency.

On Wednesday morning, two federal agents and a CPD officer were injured in a shooting in the city's Morgan Park neighborhood.

Police have been questioning a person of interest in the shooting that wounded a CPD officer and two ATF agents.

Several Chicago community leaders continue to be outraged by the violence. And they're calling on Gov. JB Pritzker to declare a State of Emergency to put the city in a position to receive more funding.

But Pritzker's office said he's treating the epidemic of gun violence as a public health crisis.

RELATED: Chicago violence: 100 shot, 18 fatally, in weekend shootings across city, CPD says

Father Michael Pfleger said a single plan uniting Chicago and surrounding communities is needed to stop the violence.

"We need emergency funds; we need emergency action," he said. "And the action is this comprehensive approach because what we're doing is obviously not working."

A spokeswoman for Pritzker defended the administration's response, saying in part that the state is "committed to a comprehensive approach to gun violence by investing in programs that provide pathways to good education, careers, and safe communities."