This Father’s Day weekend marked the most deadly for gun violence in 2020 in Chicago: 102 people shot, eight of them children.
Four of those children died of their injuries; one was a 3-year-old toddler, Mehki James, hit in his car seat in the back of a car, and another a 13-year-old girl struck inside her home.
Two teens who rarely go outside due to fear of violence in their neighborhood, decided to take a short trip to a local store to buy some candy, and ended up shot and killed in their alley.
The majority of these victims were from underserved neighborhoods. Gun violence erodes communities and the feeling of safety to even walk outside, go to the store, or even be safe in one’s own home. Children should not have to grow up with this level of trauma and fear.
Black Lives Matter, so we must demand accountability and justice to end racist police violence and murder. We must also take the funding that goes to weapons, military equipment,and defending lawsuits for police departments, and instead use it for communities that are in desperate need of social services.
Black Lives Matter, so we must also demand resources for small business development, local, accessible social and mental health services, and violence intervention organizations that are so needed in many of our Chicago neighborhoods.
Mayor Lightfoot and our city leaders need to hear from us every day. In her 2020 budget, she dedicated $11.5 million to community-based safety efforts in the 15 Chicago neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence. This is much less than what Los Angeles and New York invested in equivalent programs that helped reduce gun violence in those major cities. More needs to be invested in these communities, and especially in violence interruption, which we have seen in Chicago can have tremendous impact. For a spending comparison: the police budget is $1.5 billion.
With the COVID-19 pandemic crisis we can anticipate further economic hardships for families in underserved communities due to closed businesses, unemployment, and the loss of productive lives. With economic hardship comes increased rates of domestic violence and criminal activity, which are both drivers of gun violence.
We can expect gun violence to only increase and more deaths in our Chicago community until these two intersectional issues are addressed in an ethical manner with adequate funding.
Here are some great organizations you can help out in the meantime:
- BUILD Chicago
- GoodKids MadCity
- I Grow Chicago
- IMAN Community Health Center
- Institute for Nonviolence Chicago
- R.A.G.E. (Resident Association of Greater Englewood)
- READI Heartland Alliance
- Sista Afya