We are experiencing in Chicago a second pandemic and that is gun violence. It is not an invisible virus like COVID-19, we know where the violence is and its causes. Over the Memorial Day Weekend 10 people were killed and 39 were wounded by gun violence. This violence is taking place during Governor Pritzker’s Stay at Home Order. The month of May has been very bloody in Chicago, to date 43 people have been shot and killed and another 221 have been wounded by gun violence.
Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot’s first priority must be the health and safety of the residents of Illinois and Chicago. Clearly, the data suggests that they have failed at their most basic obligation of protecting the citizens from gun violence. The neighborhoods of Garfield Park, Austin, Englewood and Humboldt Park have the highest levels of gun violence this year. As the weather continues to warm, these communities and others will be virtual war zones if the Governor and Mayor continue to do nothing. The issue of gun violence is not new. The fact that this violence continues to persist during the Governor’s lockdown and the Mayor’s militarization of communities on the south and west sides is troubling.
The communities hit hardest by gun violence have been neglected for decades. There has been a history of disinvestment and systemic discrimination. Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot have the resources to prevent further loss of life from gun violence. This summer will be a bloody one if they fail to act. There are a number of measures the Governor and Mayor can implement to make our neighborhoods safer. First, I urge them to pass my Reparations bill that has been introduced in both the city and state. The Reparations bill will assist those who are most vulnerable in our communities with the resources they need to survive and thrive.
Secondly, the Governor and Mayor must have a bold plan to confront the violence in minority communities. The plan must include input from the community. There needs to be a focus on jobs and job training, education, health care, housing, mental illness, and nutrition counseling.
The level of violence that we witnessed over Memorial Day Weekend is unacceptable and must never be tolerated. Our elected officials are charged to lead in times of crisis, gun violence and COVID-19 are two pandemics that cry out for real leadership. Interestingly, African Americans and Latinos are being devastated by both COVID-19 and gun violence