Chicago holds neighborhood town halls about community safety, efforts to reduce violence

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Prevention and resources for neighborhoods and youth are some of the topics that came up during Mayor Lori Lightfoot's first town hall meeting on preventing violence.

"We can't give up. We have to be open to other ideas," said Precious Wright.

As a lifelong Austin neighborhood resident, Wright was among the hundreds who attended the first of six scheduled town hall meetings about community safety.

Saturday's meeting was on the city's West Side, where several neighborhoods work to combat violence every day.

RELATED: Mayor Lightfoot, NYC mayor meet to talk crime-fighting strategy
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Chicago and New York mayors struggling to fight a violent crime wave held a face-to-face meeting Friday to share strategy.

"Violence is an expression of poverty," Lightfoot said "In too many areas on the West Side, we have generational poverty where there hasn't been investments in people or places in decades."

During the forum, the mayor and some members of her administration listened as residents not only asked questions but shared their concerns -- especially about the uptick in carjackings and the lack of positive resources available for teens and kids committing those crimes.

"If you don't think you are going to make it to the age of 18, what difference does it make if you go out and shoot kill... if you're hungry and don't have a roof over your head," said Dr. Phalese Binion, president and CEO of West Side Ministers Coalition.

This weekend's community meeting comes as Chicago police issue a community alert following a crime spree, including two break-ins on the West Side.

Friday morning, both a high-end shoe store and a mini-mart in the 2200-block of West Taylor Street were hit. Investigators are trying to determine if the break-ins are related.

Residents also got a chance to hear what violence prevention strategies are planned for the future as some expressed frustration over the lack of resource investment in Black and brown neighborhoods.

Troy Gaston with Black Lives Matter hopes the mayor keeps her promise.

"Today is the day that we come together to put our mind around a master plan to push back on the resistance when it comes down to the epidemic of violence in our streets today, particularly in Black and brown communities," he said.

More town hall meetings are planned in the weeks to come. The next one will be on the South Side and after that, there's one highlighting what can be done to help youth.

Here's the full list of town halls:

West Side Town Hall
Date: Saturday, March 19th
Location: Garfield Park Gold Dome Field House
100 N Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624
Time: 10 AM

South Side Town Hall
Date: Wednesday, March 23rd
Location: Chicago State University's EMIL & PATRICIA A. JONES CONVOCATION CENTER
Time: 6 PM

Youth Focused Town Hall
Date: Saturday, April 2nd
Location: Harold Washington Library Center - Winter Garden
400 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605
Time: 10 AM

Central Region Town Hall
Date: Saturday, April 2nd
Location: Harold Washington Library Center - Winter Garden
400 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605
Time: 2 PM

Southwest Side Town Hall
Date: Monday, April 4th
Location: Daley College
7500 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60652
Time: 6 PM

North/Northwest Side Town Hall
Date: Tuesday, April 5th
Location: Truman College Gymnasium
1145 W Wilson Ave, Chicago, IL 60640
Time: 6 PM

Dates and locations for the town halls can also be viewed here.
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