The murder rate seems to rise steadily in Chicago each day as the summer begins to make its exit. According to the Chicago Police Department report covering July 27 to August 2, 2015, there have been 259 murders in the city, already surpassing last year’s number of 214 murders. Community leaders, residents and officers are trying to figure out how to stop these murders. Solutions seem few and far in between.
As a result of this escalating rate of crime–specifically in African American communities, Jedidiah Brown called a meeting that was held at New Beginnings Church on the South Side of Chicago with the assistance of Pastor Corey Brooks. When asked why he called the meeting, Brown said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand, and one of the biggest contributors to the conditions and the violence of the Black community has been the lack of good relationships, division and a lack of conflict resolution skills. As we begin to move my organization to build and hold elected officials accountable, we got to clean house and get on the same page. This is the Black community waking up.”
The mood of the meeting was serious and determined. Many stood to speak their mind, air out grievances and concerns. Solutions were the focus of the night. Economic self sufficiency, voting and holding politicians accountable to the African American community remained consistent topics of the discussion.
Pastor Brooks was challenged on a few occasions with respect to his relationship with Governor Rauner. Brooks did not mince words when he explained to the group that for many years under democratic leadership he has witnessed no change in his community and felt it was necessary to explore options that would be favorable to the community. Vincent Gilbert, executive director of The Gardner Initiative, spoke of an initiative by the Koch brothers to fund a program to employ the formerly incarcerated.
Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers, IL. State Representative Ken Dunkin and attorney Todd Belcore were on hand to provide insight to the political landscape and discussed strategies to affect change that will ultimately curb this wave of violence that is gripping the city.
When asked what she got out of this meeting, Afrika Porter said, “Tonight’s meeting was phenomenal because it was inter-generational from the babies to the elders. People were able to hear each other and listen to each other and then we got some solutions answered. People were very candid, honest and transparent. They talked about who they are, what they do, what they don’t like about people in the same room. That doesn’t usually happen and I think it’s important, and we got to move forward from that.”
Take a look at the gallery below.