By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
A number of community leaders and ministers including Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin and Rev. Jesse L. Jackson have asked President Donald Trump to come to Chicago in hopes of quelling the violence, but only if he brings needed resources such as jobs for at-risk youth.
They made their remarks during a press conference jointly convened by Boykin and Jackson at the Austin Town Hall, 5610 West Lake St. They were joined by Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th), and many others.
Boykin said, “We are virtually in a state of emergency here in Chicago. Austin…has become ground zero for the gun violence that exists….” Referring to the 800 people who were killed last year and 4400 shot, Boykin said, “the sad thing about this is that it is genocide.” He said 49 of the 59 people killed were Black; the others were Latinos.
Commissioner Boykin, who conducted hearings on nine endangered communities said people want resources. “Poverty is the worst weapon of mass destruction but poverty, self-hate and unemployment…above 20 percent in those communities … only add to the violence…the genocide.”
Boykin said his Revitalization Act “will help to repair those relationships because if you got an officer on the block, they are not going to be dealing drugs on that block. That officer will have a stake in that community….” The bill calls for giving free homes to police officers, firefighters, teachers and paramedics.
“It requires developers to use 30 percent of the residents from at-risk communities to do the rehab and to build the homes,” Boykin said, hoping that the Cook County Board passes his bill.
Jackson, Boykin and Pastor Ira Acree, a former Hillary Clinton delegate, described Austin as the “epicenter” of gun violence. They made an appeal for Trump to come to Austin but not with more police, rather an economic investment in jobs and infrastructure.
“The president can come and make a difference with an economic investment,” said Acree, but he wants Trump “not to use rhetoric but to provide resources.”
Acree said “Chicago is a world class city, but many residents live in terror in what’s a virtual war zone. Public safety actually depends on which neighborhood you live in. If you live in North Park, you’re safe, but in North Lawndale, you’re not. Lincoln Park is safe, but Garfield Park is dangerous. The residents of Edgewater live in comfort, while those in Englewood are in a crisis.”
He asked everyone to support Boykin’s Neighborhood Revitalization Act, up for a vote at the County Board.