Mayor Holds Joint Meeting to Discuss Chicago’s Crime
Joint Meeting to Discuss Chicago’s Crime
Deborah Bayliss | 7/23/2014, 3:34 p.m.
As the Chicago Citizen Newspaper spoke to LaRoya Baker, 26 -- who fits the demographic profile of victims and perpetrators of Chicago's gun violence -- just outside of the Chicago Police Department at 35th and Michigan, local government officials, school administrators, law enforcement agencies, faith groups and community organizations gathered for a private meeting Monday morning to discuss joint efforts to combat the city’s gun violence. Ironically, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said during the meeting that the young people he’s spoken with often say they are left out of the discussions on Chicago's crime problem.
Seemingly ignored by the throng of media outlets gathered outside the Chicago Police Department at 3510 S. Michigan, Baker said, prior to Emanuel’s remarks, that he is considering moving out of Chicago because the city is no longer safe for him and his two young children, an eight-year-old and a 5 month old.
“I’ve lived in this city all my life and have never seen it this bad,” Baker who resides in Humboldt Park, told the Citizen. “I’ve never been in a gang but I was, at one point, headed in that direction because of my friends who were in gangs. I’ve lost friends to gun violence since I was 11 years old. Whenever I leave my house I’m constantly looking over my shoulders. I’ve been shot at many times. I want something better for myself and for my kids.”
Wanting to do better for his children while feeling unsafe to walk the streets, Baker said he’s had to make some decisions.
“I’m tired of being stereotyped and grouped in with people who are creating the gun violence, Baker said. “It’s seems like the more we say put the guns down, the more they pick them up. Some rappers add to the violence as well. I just got my record expunged and I’m trying to do better for my kids. It’s not safe out here. The next thing I’m going to do is work on getting my conceal carry license. We’re just not safe anymore.”
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy—who has come under public scrutiny over Chicago’s high crime rate and reportedly for down-playing Chicago’s crime stats—also took part along with federal law enforcement agencies in the panel discussion moderated by WVON Radio talk show host, Matt McGill, who said he’s been in talks for some time with the mayor about the joint discussion.
Monday’s discussion on how to deal with the violence follows another weekend of violence with at least four people killed and 38 injured in shooting throughout the city, according to news reports.
“This meeting was long in planning,” said Mayor Emanuel as he discussed the use of federal resources from the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) including seven more agents assigned to work in Chicago, bringing the total number of agents to 52, following a bloody July 4 holiday weekend that left at least 14 people dead and 82 injured.
"The Justice Department will continue to do everything in its power to help the city of Chicago combat gun violence," said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement. "These new agents are a sign of the federal government's ongoing commitment to helping local leaders ensure Chicago's streets are safe."
During the opening of the panel discussion, the only part of the meeting that was open to the media, Emanuel also mentioned that the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab will receive $10 million in new funding to support the expansion of Youth Guidance’s Becoming A Man (BAM) program that offers mentoring and cognitive behavioral therapy to at-risk youth and the Match program, an individualized math tutoring program also for at-risk youth.
“I recently met with kids for Team Englewood, 6201 S. Stewart who feel their dreams are not part of the city’s dream and they asked if they are part of the city’s vision,” said Emanuel who added solving Chicago’s crime is more complex than the number of ATF agents deployed to Chicago. “It’s about where the guns are coming from and where the parents are and our investments. It’s a community-wide problem that requires community solutions.
Other panelists included, Chicago Public School’s Chief, Barbara Byrd Bennett; City Colleges Chancellor, Cheryl Hyman and Evelyn Diaz, City of Chicago's Department of Family and Support Services.