Chicago pastor calls on President Biden to declare violence a public health crisis

Local group walking to D.C. to drum up support
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Pastor Anthony Williams has been on a mission for years pushing elected officials to declare violence as a public health crisis.

He accomplished that goal at the state level. Governor Pritzker signed a bill in April that directs more resources to communities impacted by violence. Now Pastor Williams is calling on President Biden to issue an executive order declaring violence as a public health crisis.

"While we are working our way through COVID-19 this other pandemic of violence still sits in our way," said Williams.

He and several others plan to walk to Washington D.C. They're going to be stopping in cities along the way for press conferences to drum up support.

"I lost a son to violence. Anyone that has lost a child or loved one to violence will tell you that pain doesn't feel good. Well I want to take my pain and turn into policy. That's been my goal," said Williams.

Across the country there's rising concern about crime. Over Father's Day weekend in Chicago, police say 54 people were shot. Just two months ago Reverend Dr. Elaine Joyner of Kenwood United Church of Christ said she was the victim of an attempted carjacking outside her home.

"It was the most traumatic experience of my life. I'm still fearful when I got outside. I'm still fearful when I go inside," said Joyner.

Although she will not be walking with Williams, she said she is in full support of his efforts to draw attention to this issue of violence.

"We need radical steps to eradicate the violence," said Joyner.

The walk against violence steps off Wednesday at noon at a church on the far south side. Their first stop will be Gary, Indiana. The group plans to arrive in D.C. on July 4th.
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