65 groups sign open letter calling for Mayor Lightfoot to address root causes of Chicago violence

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A coalition of more than 65 community, faith, legal and policy organizations from across Chicago signed an open letter Monday calling for Mayor Lori Lightfoot to address gun violence by focusing on its root causes.

"Our mayor needs to engage in what is causing violence throughout our neighborhoods instead of relying on the same old law enforcement techniques and strategies," said Saaleha Johnson, with South Siders Organized for Unity and Liberation.

The call for change follows a fatal shooting of a 16-year-old at the "Bean" in Millennium Park by another teen and a mass shooting in the city's Near North business district that left two people dead.

Chicagoan Avalon Betts-Gaston knows all too well the true cost of gun violence. Although her uncle's murder happened years ago, she's still triggered by the gun violence that grips the city.

"I am always worried about my children," Betts-Gaston said.

She joined several other groups calling on city leaders to address the surge in gun violence not with just policing, but by investing resources in struggling neighborhoods.

"The city has done a good job in making an initial investment," said Rev. Christophe Ringer, with A Just Harvest. "What they really need is at least triple that."

These advocates say if more resources were earmarked for affordable housing, mental health, job training and food insecurity, efforts at gun control may be more successful because kids would be able to make better choices.

"So if you want youth to be involved in positive activities, you have to provide that," 33rd Ward Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez said.

The coalition says they are hoping for a safe and healthy Memorial Day weekend as they plan to continue to advocate to have more resources go to Chicago's neighborhoods.
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