Community Leaders Renew Commitment to Chicago Violence Prevention Programs, 0 Million Raised; Mayor Johnson, Governor Pritzker Speak
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Community Leaders Renew Commitment to Chicago Violence Prevention Programs, $100 Million Raised; Mayor Johnson, Governor Pritzker Speak

CHICAGO (WLS) — The violent and deadly weekend prompted renewed commitment from government officials, the business community and anti-violence groups to invest in solving the problem.

A news conference was held Wednesday afternoon with Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The event came as civic groups reached their $100 million fundraising goal to fund organizations that fight violence.

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Lawmakers and civil society leaders said that in light of the horrifically violent weekend Chicago just endured, it is time to turn the page. They called for renewed public and private commitments to combating violence by investing in anti-violence programs and in the communities most affected.

A mass shooting in the Austin community in the early hours of July 5 left seven people shot and wounded and one person later died. It was just one of several shootings over the holiday weekend that frustrated those fighting to prevent violence, calling on everyone to do more.

“When you have over 100 gunshot wounds in one weekend and 17 deaths, none of us can say we’re doing enough,” said Arne Duncan, managing partner of Chicago CRED. “Together, we need to step up and do something much better for our city.”

Chicago Police Department Superintendent Larry Snelling said his officers cannot combat violence alone.

“I don’t want you to do this alone. We have to do this together,” Snellings said. “And if we don’t work together, we will fail. I refuse to let us fail.”

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Civic and business groups, which have now raised $100 million to fund anti-violence investments, renewed their commitment Wednesday.

“We will do whatever it takes and we will not stop until children and families can live in communities free of fear, trauma and violence,” said Esther Franco-Payne, executive director of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

Austin resident Gabrielle Meeks is skeptical about the impact violence interrupters will have.

“I hope that’s the case,” Meeks said. “But I pray, because this community is in a very difficult situation and I hate to see people get killed, especially these babies.”

This is happening because generations of Chicagoans have become disinterested in marginalized and neglected people…

Gov. Pritzker acknowledged the violence is frustrating, but said private funding and the state’s multi-year $250 million commitment are making a difference.

“We have not spent enough money to support community violence responders and to rebuild infrastructure that was destroyed by Republicans. If we had not rebuilt it, the problem would be much worse today,” Pritzker said.

Mayor Johnson called last weekend brutal and harsh.

“This violence does not happen in a vacuum,” Johnson said. “However, it happens because generations of Chicagoans have been disinterested in marginalized and neglected people, and I dare say intentionally so.”

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Lawmakers conceded there is no quick fix to a decades-old problem in Chicago, but they joined the private sector in saying they were determined to stay committed to saving lives.

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