The Radio Station 107.5 WGCI FM and BBF Family Services (formerly, the Better Boys Foundation) presented “Stop the Bleeding,” a special town hall meeting hosted by the 107.5 WGCI Chicago Morning Takeover with Kyle, Kendra G and Leon at William Penn Elementary School on 1616 South Avers.
The two-hour radio and Facebook Live broadcast event featured a panel discussion from West Side leaders and questions and answers from Chicago residents. Panelists included Rufus Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer of BBF Family Services; Commander Kevin Johnson from Chicago Police District 11; Dr. Kimberly Lewis, Program Director at the Primo Center for Women and Children; Aleta Clark, activist and founder of Hugs No Slugs; and Mellanie Washington, mother of Tavon Tanner, an 11-year-old gun violence survivor.
Other civic, community and business leaders included Alderman Michael Scott Jr. of the 24th Ward; Robert Steele, Cook County Commissioner; Art Richardson, Chicago Park District Region Manager; and Glenn Brooks, Chicago Police Department’s CAPS Area Coordinator; Matt Scarano, iHeartMedia Chicago Region President; Angela T. Ingram, iHeartMedia Senior Vice President, Communications, Chicago Region; and representatives from Congressman Danny Davis and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office, participated.
Rufus Williams highlighted the importance of alleviating the poverty that inspires violence by creating education and employment opportunities, noting that, “It takes a village to raise a child and the village is broken. Each of us has the responsibility of rebuilding it.”
“As community citizens, we have an obligation to the safety of our children,” said Aleta Clark, emphasizing the importance of vigilance. “Our children didn’t ask to be here, and we have to protect them.”
Other panelists provided additional solutions. Dr. Kimberly Lewis pointed out the need to address widespread trauma in order to reduce violence, while Commander Kevin Johnson encouraged conflict resolution and improved community-police relations, and Mellanie Washington emphasized the value of thoughtful and engaged parenting.
Following the panel discussion, community members were given a platform to speak to systematic and cultural issues within the community and society that contribute to violence. Many spoke to the importance of grassroots community self-investment and renewal, and to the responsibility of community leaders, politicians and police to their constituents.
“107.5 WGCI launched this series of community conversations on gun violence in the city of Chicago in March of 2016 to create public awareness and engage the community in finding solutions to this pressing issue,” said iHeartMedia Chicago Region President Matt Scarano. iHeartMedia is planning additional community town halls in the near future.
“Stop the Bleeding” was made possible through a partnership between iHeartMedia, William Penn Elementary and BBF Family Services. Since 1961, BBF Family Services, formerly known as the Better Boys Foundation, has improved the quality of life for North Lawndale youth and their families by providing safe, stable, and nurturing experiences that enhance social, emotional, academic, and career development. The organization specializes in six program and service areas: Youth Services, Education, Employment Services, Family Services, Health & Wellness, and Community Engagement.