Rush Hosts Community Meeting with Chicago’s Top Law Enforcement Officials, Charts Initial Next Steps to Address Youth Concerns
CONTACT: Renee Ferguson
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CHICAGO ––In response to chronic instances of crime in the Beat 624 area of the 6th Chicago Police District, U. S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush held a “Let’s Talk About It” community conversation with top law enforcement officials, parents, students, residents and community leaders from a part of his district which, sadly, has been described by local residents as “The Crime Spine of the City.”
This event began, last night, at 6:00 p.m. at the St. Dorothy Catholic Church Fellowship Hall at 450 E. 78th Street in Chicago. Beat 624 includes the Chatham Avalon and Park Manor communities—areas that were once flourishing, middle-class neighborhoods. Today, the community is besieged by dope dealers operating out in the open, automatic weapons that are fired in broad daylight, incidents of aggravated battery and burglary. Senior citizens are often afraid to leave their homes. Students who want to get an education are often afraid to walk to and from school by themselves. Business owners complain of lost revenue because of crime. This is occurring at a time when trust in law enforcement has been compromised with some honest citizens feeling as if they are caught in the middle between crime and corruption.
Joining Rush at this event were Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Sixth District Commander Eddie Johnson, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau, ATF Special Agent Andrew Traver, DEA Special Agent John J. Riley, FBI Special Agent Robert Grant and 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer. This conversation marked a first step in the process of healing so that residents and law enforcement could find ways to work together, more effectively, to restore this community.
In opening remarks to the more than 300 residents and community leaders who attended, in part, Congressman Rush said, “We gather inside the beautiful sanctuary of St. Dorothy Church and I want to thank Father Bob Miller for welcoming us here this evening. Shootings, flash mobs, pepper spray assaults by young men have been in the headlines this weekend. It seems to me that if it happens on the north side it’s news, but when it happens here nobody pays attention.
“The fact of the matter is that we are all one community. Our young people are connected by technology and they’ve got too much time on their hands. The fact is that what happens in one neighborhood is not really separate from what happens in another neighborhood. The sooner everybody comes to terms with this reality the better off we will all be.
“This is not the first time that we have had a serious crime problem in this beat. I recall that in 1998 we had similar meetings and action was taken by police and community leaders to solve the problem. Now it’s back. And, once again, we find ourselves reacting.
“We are here, tonight, looking for solutions, real solutions! We know law enforcement is a big part of what we must do. But law enforcement cannot work without the consent and cooperation of honest citizens. Cooperation cannot happen without trust. And, yet, without security freedom is lost.
“Tonight, I urge everyone on the panel and in the pews to come from a place of deep respect and true listening. My hope, at the very least, is that tonight we will begin to chart a productive way forward to transform this community to a place of peace and opportunity for all of us.”
At the conclusion of this event, Congressman Rush committed to a series of next steps including the fact that he, personally, would respond to an appeal from a student who was present last night who said that he and some of his friends were afraid to walk home from their high school, without an adult present, out of fear of being attacked by bullies or worse. Also, there was an offer made by Sixth District Commander Eddie Johnson to extend the extra police presence in Beat 624 by 90 days. Rush called on Johnson and his superiors to extend the increased patrols by at least a full year.
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