EMERGENCY COMMUNITY MEETING HELD TO SEEK SOLUTIONS TO GUN VIOLENCE
10/31/2018, noon | Updated on 10/31/2018, noon
Emergency Community Meeting Held To Seek Solutions To Gun Violence
BY KATHERINE NEWMAN
Alderman Michelle Harris (8th Ward) recently participated in an emergency community meeting at Bethlehem Star Missionary Baptist Church where six people were shot leaving a funeral on Oct. 22. Several community activists, residents, public officials, and law enforcement officers were also in attendance to offer their input on how to stop south side violence.
During the meeting, William Bradley, Police Commander of the 6th District, gave a brief summary of what happened at Bethlehem Star Missionary Baptist Church, 9231 S. Cottage Grove Ave., during the funeral services for Vantrease R. Criss.
“We were made aware that there was going to be a funeral here and that there might be some disorderly issues so I assigned a vehicle over there which I do often because we have a lot of these types of funerals and events in the district. I assigned a car strictly for patrol and presence in this area,” said Bradley.
Bradley went on to describe that there was a SWAT incident that day which pulled many of his resources and then immediately following that, there was a call for officer assistance and the car he had assigned to the area surrounding
Bethlehem Star Missionary Baptist Church responded which is what most officers are trained to do, according to Bradley.
“During the time that they were settling that incident was when we received all the shots fired calls and we responded. I was actually the first officer on the scene and it was pretty chaotic,” said Bradley.
The Chicago Police Department is currently investigating the incident and Bradley said that they do have video evidence of the shooting that is being reviewed.
It was this shooting that motivated Bethlehem Star Missionary Baptist Church to host the emergency community meeting and allow the community residents, public officials, and law enforcement to address the gravity of this particular situation and share their solutions for creating a safer community.
“In this community, I would really like for us to start creating policies that we have designed as a community,” said Harris. “This is going to be a real culture change for all of us as a community on how we deal with our children. How do we deal with our children that are in pain? Because you gotta be in pain to come here and shoot someone that you don’t even know.”
Several other public officials at the meeting, including Alderman David Moore (17th Ward), State Sen. Elgie Sims (17th District), Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st District), and Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore (4th district) shared similar sentiments of wanting to be able to work with their constituents to create better policies and opportunities that would better serve their constituents.
During the time for public comment, several community activists and residents spoke out about a lack of funding for after-school programs, a lack of mental health services in the community, and a lack of job opportunities as being major barriers to creating a safer community.