To truly make our communities safe, we must step up our efforts to prevent violence before it happens and before the police intervene.
This week, organizers and advocates celebrated Chicago City Council’s passage of Police Accountability Reform after being blocked for two years by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. This long overdue civilian oversight is a chance for Chicagoans to see under the hood and understand how the Chicago Police Department operates and uses its $ 1 billion annual budget. This is an opportunity to rethink how we classify public safety spending, because the police alone cannot keep Chicago safe.
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The mayor’s violence prevention strategy has focused narrowly on removing illegal guns from the streets, and his methods are making the headlines, but they are doomed to fail. Last week, the mayor announced a million dollar tip line for residents to report information about people in possession of illegal firearms or used in the commission of a crime, mimicking the Republican governor from Ohio, which tried and failed to sell cash prizes to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19.
People who have witnessed crimes face serious threats to their safety if they spy. Such threats do not exist for people who get vaccinated, but this gun plan is supposed to work? There is a cold cynicism behind the idea that low-income families will take such risks to help the police – which they are very often suspicious of – and put themselves in great danger for the vague promise of cash. On top of that, CPD is doing a fairly good job of getting illegal guns off the streets, reporting an increase in 26% compared to this period last year.
Guns are the tool that inflicts violence, but they are not the source of violence. Northerners have as much access to illegal Indiana guns as anyone on the South or West side, but we don’t see the same level of violence in these wealthier communities. This is because the violence stems from a lack of investment in communities – a lack of well-paying jobs, affordable housing, access to quality medical care, child care and good health. education – not access to guns.
We saw these same tactics in the failed Reagan-era war on drugs, a racist policy that increased the severity of drug-related crimes, criminalizing a symptom of poverty instead of attacking the root causes. deep.
For starters, we should invest in a year-round youth and young adult jobs program funded by the city budget, with jobs accessible to people who really need them. This means addressing the fairness of transit in Chicago and understanding that not everyone can easily access the Loop.
It would be a real start to preventing violence in Chicago and keeping our communities safe.
Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th)
Do you feel lucky for Lolla?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, speaking of the risks of the spread of COVID-19 in Lollapalooza, said he was “confident that the people of Lolla have a good solid plan in place. And we’re obviously going to hold them accountable to make sure this plan is implemented. “
At the same time, however, the mayor ignored the issue that people who use CTA – and those who work for CTA – have no choice but to take crowded trains and buses in which people are not required to wear masks. Is there a reason the mayor doesn’t hold CTA responsible for this?
Supposedly, masks are mandatory on the CTA, but that only seems like lip service. There is a clear disconnect between the stated policy and what is actually happening.
Attending Lollapalooza will be like playing Russian Roulette with your health. As Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry says, “Do I feel lucky? Well, isn’t it? “
Michael Pearson, Englewood