The Other Pandemic in Chicago: Gun Violence

July 2020 was the deadliest month in Chicago history in the last 28 years, with 105 people killed, mostly by firearms. It ended with the shooting death of 9-year-old Janari Ricks, who was playing outside in a parking lot near his Cabrini Green home.

ABC 7 Chicago reports that this marks “a nearly 139% increase from the 44 reported in July 2019.”

The majority of these victims were from Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods. Gun violence erodes communities and the feeling of safety to walk outside to 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,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.

Get Involved

Chicago NOW is supporting the efforts of the youth leaders of March for the Hood on August 15th. They are collecting school supplies and menstrual supplies for kids in the underserved south side neighborhoods. 

To donate: https://gf.me/u/yjzgtc

Picture of youth at rally with text, March for the Hood

Here are some other great organizations in Chicago that address this intersection between communities dealing with multiple levels of trauma and gun violence that you can also lend support to as well:

Our Vote Is Our Voice! Join CNOW to Get Out The Vote (GOTV).



The clock is ticking down to November 3, 2020. These are times of reckoning—from the top of the ticket to the bottom. We’ll need your help to win. We need to Get Out The Vote (GOTV).

Our sneaks-on-the-streets method to reach voters may have shifted, but our focus has not. In-person canvassing has been suspended, but there are other effective and safe social distancing GOTV actions you can join. From writing postcards to voters or phone banking, your time can make a significant impact in our area, especially in Midwest swing states, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The work looks different in this environment, but it’s just as effective! What won’t work is standing on the sidelines. So c’mon. Together we’ll restore a government that works for all people—in the Midwest and in Washington, DC.

Ready to make change this November? Our friends at Indivisible Chicago Alliance have great ways you can get involved. Inspired by the Indivisible Guide, Indivisible Chicago is a progressive, grassroots all-volunteer group of Chicago residents with chapters in neighborhoods all across the city committed to resisting the regressive Trump agenda.

Get Started Today:

Write postcards to Midwest voters. Indivisible Chicago is mobilizing volunteers to help get out the vote in swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania. Join a grassroots, volunteer-led campaign to engage our Midwest neighbors in crucial swing states with Indivisible Chicago’s “Three States, One Mission” campaign.

Get Out the Vote to Wisconsin

Help increase voter turnout, and encourage mail-in ballots, by writing postcards to voters in key swing states. With volunteers like you, 13 million handwritten postcards will be sent to voters, which can lead to over 200,000 votes.

The Midwest is critically important in the 2020 election. In 2016, Wisconsin and Michigan were lost by just 30,000 votes combined. And combined with other chapters across the U.S., Indivisible Chicago, with support from Progressive Turnout Project, will send 13 million postcards to voters—and they keep adding swing states! That’s a lot of votes. We can do this!

How it works: If you live in Chicago, Indivisible Chicago will provide you with postcards, addresses and instructions. Once completed, they will make sure your handwritten postcards are mailed in October for you. No-contact pick-up and drop-off options are available throughout Chicago. Heck, they will even drop off/pick up at your doorstep!

Order your postcards today and start writing. Indivisible Chicago is serving as a Postcards to Wisconsin and Michigan distribution point for those in Chicago; order your postcards directly here to save on shipping costs. If you live outside of Chicago and want to write postcards for other swing states, order your postcards directly from Postcards to Swing States.

Get Out the Vote to Michigan

Interested in a little competition to get started? Join Indivisible Chicago’s Postcard Posse—the only postcard writing league in the U.S. Invite your friends, create a fun team name, start winning prizes (RBG bobblehead, anyone?). Host a virtual postcard party at your next friends or family Zoom hangout.

Write some postcards. Have fun. Save democracy.

Other Ways to Mobilize Voters In the Midst of a Pandemic

Join a virtual phone banking event. Whether you’ve worked campaigns or are a rookie, Indivisible Chicago will make sure you have the support to make an impact. If you’re new to phone banking, they offer “Phone Banking 101,” a 30-minute, virtual training session.

Check out the schedule and join an upcoming phone banking event. All virtual phone bank gatherings start with an orientation, talking points, and end with a group debrief when the calls are done. Your phone bank leaders are always available online to solve problems and answer questions. Get started now!

Listen to the Indivisible Chicago Podcast: Featuring weekly convos with Chicago representatives, newsmakers, activists, scholars, and Indivisible Chicago neighborhood chapters to learn more about what is happening in the pushback against the Trump agenda.

Participate in “The Big Send” campaign led by Vote Forward, a volunteer campaign that aims to send 10 million handwritten letters to ask voters in super states such as Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa and others to win the electoral college.

How it works: The Big Send provides a printable PDF for you to add a handwritten message on each letter, sharing why you vote—and why it’s important they do. Once complete, address, stamp (it’s a bring-your-own-stamps operation) and hold them in a safe spot until given instructions to mail in October. So far, one million letters have already been written!

Still need inspiration? Read Stacey Abrams’ NYT opinion piece, “I Know Voting Feels Inadequate Right Now,” and hear her thoughts on the importance of GOTV.

There is only one question you can answer on November 4: Did you do all you could to stop this madness? Sign up here to make sure the answer is YES.

There is no choice between voting and protesting. We need to do both!

Our vote is our voice!

Chicago NOW Denounces Racism and Calls for Investigation Within NOW Ranks

Chicago NOW has reviewed several recent news articles claiming a disturbing pattern of racist behavior among NOW’s national leadership.

We call for transparent and concrete answers from President Toni Van Pelt. We also call for a comprehensive investigation into all allegations at the national level, and for the results of this investigation to be provided to local chapters.

As one of hundreds of independent local chapters of the National Organization for Women, we do not have the facts surrounding the allegations made at the national level. Chicago NOW affirms that no form of feminism is legitimate unless it is intersectional. That means trusting the experiences of women of color and taking all allegations of racism seriously. We must denounce racist acts within our own organization before we can effectively advocate for anti-racism in our communities.

As intersectional feminists, we must reckon with some hard truths: the feminist movement has a long, storied history that includes many racist practices, and the city of Chicago has its own racist history. It is on every one of us to recognize these realities and take active steps to improve them. We demand the same from our leaders and look forward to a full and transparent investigation into allegations of racism among our ranks.

Action Needed: CNOW Demands Racial Justice​

Racial justice is one of CNOW’s core issues. Grounded in our belief that human rights are indivisible, CNOW is committed to identifying and disabling barriers to equality and justice that are imposed by racism. We aim to combat systemic racism through intersectional feminism. We know racial justice is important to all members of our community, but we also must recognize that we do not all experience that deep-rooted fear that we or our loved ones could be harassed or killed simply while jogging, while in their homes, while bird watching in a public park or while interacting with law enforcement over a non-violent incident. Accordingly, we cannot look away. We must continually repeat the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Christian Cooper and George Floyd.

Your feelings of rage, fear, devastation, despair, and anxiety are justified. Let’s channel our anger into collective action.

It is not enough to stand next to each other advocating for justice when tragedy based in racism goes viral and ripples through our communities. Relentless action must be taken through voting, legislation, policy, funding, education, criminal justice reform, economic equality, and access to justice. CNOW is active in these fights and will join in yours. There is power in numbers. For the sake of our humanity, this is our call to action for critical change.

Emergency Action: Rally to Save Roe – Monday, May 20th!

Georgia. Alabama. Ohio. Indiana. Missouri. The list of states passing reckless, dangerous and unconstitutional bans on abortion seems to grow by the day. One thing is clear beyond any doubt – anti-abortion forces will not stop until Roe v. Wade is overturned and access to safe, legal abortion ceases to exist. We must act now to save Roe.

Join us this Monday, May 20 at 5:00 p.m. at Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago (Adams and Dearborn) for the Rally to Save Roe!

We will be joined by a coalition of organizations committed to protecting access to women’s reproductive healthcare, and we will learn how we can take action in Illinois. Right now, the Illinois House of Representatives is considering the Reproductive Health Act, a measure designed to protect and ensure access to abortion care, contraceptives and maternal care in Illinois. Contact your state representative and MAKE them vote on this bill here.

The rally also will feature a number of women dressed as handmaids, based on characters from Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” – a dystopian novel about a future world that treats women as property of the state. We cannot allow that story to move from fiction to reality.
Join us for this event – and spread the word.