After West Side Mass Shooting, Leaders Offer Message of Hope, Call for More Funding to Address Violence: ‘We Are Not Destroyed’

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Community leaders gathered near the scene of a Halloween night mass shooting in East Garfield Park on Wednesday, offering messages of perseverance while calling for additional funding to address violence and divestment in the West Side.

Fourteen people, including three children, were injured around 9 p.m. Monday when gunmen in a car opened fire near the corner of California Avenue and Polk Street, where a large group of people were holding a vigil for a recently deceased woman. of a cancer.

“As a community, we are pressed on all sides by problems. We are not crushed,” said Yolanda Fields, executive director of Breakthrough Urban Ministries. “We are perplexed, but we are not desperate. We are hunted, but never abandoned by God.

“We are overthrown, but we are not destroyed.”

Yolanda Fields, executive director of Breakthrough, speaks during a press conference near the intersection of South California Avenue and West Polk Street in the East Garfield Park neighborhood, Wednesday, November 2, 2022, two days after that 14 people were shot dead in a drive-by shooting during a vigil and a balloon release.

Fields, whose organization does anti-violence work and provides other services in the community, told reporters that 10 of the gunshot victims were linked to the grieving woman, including two of the three children.

But instead of focusing solely on the attack, many speakers on Wednesday called for investments to address the root causes of gun violence and its effects on communities.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) called for “a massive infusion of cash, of resources, to really rebuild urban communities on the west side of Chicago” and across the country – “the same kind of money” being sent to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

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U.S. Representative Danny Davis attends a news conference near the intersection of South California Avenue and West Polk Street in the East Garfield Park neighborhood, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, two days after 14 people were shot dead during of a drive-by shooting during a vigil and the release of balloons.

Under Governor JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, state and city governments have launched programs dedicated to getting resources to Chicago’s historically violent areas.

Lightfoot’s flagship ‘Our City, Our Safety’ program has committed more than $450 million over the past two years to fund violence reduction efforts, employment programs, affordable housing and support services homelessness and other programs.

Declaring gun violence a public health crisis last November, Pritzker committed $250 million to community grants focused on violence prevention and youth development and intervention initiatives.

But speakers agreed that more help was desperately needed.

“Whether it’s on the West Side or the South Side of Chicago, the resources that we’re bringing back to our communities, you can barely see them because they’ve been oppressed for so long,” said state Rep. Lakesia Collins. , D-Chicago. .

She said parents like her were “frightened”.

“I’m afraid that every day I get a phone call about my 17-year-old son, my 14-year-old son or my 9-year-old son just coming home from school or going to the store or wanting to go at the park,” said Collins, who was flanked by Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) and Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Elena Gottreich.

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Police stand in the street as members of the media set up for a press conference near the intersection of South California Avenue and West Polk Street in the East Garfield Park neighborhood on Wednesday, November 2 2022, two days after 14 people were shot dead in a drive-by shooting during a vigil and balloon release.

Three children – aged 3, 11 and 13 – were seriously injured in Monday’s shooting, although the full circumstances of the attack remain unclear. Chicago Police Superintendent. David Brown told reporters that shots were fired from a passing car. A source told the Sun-Times that police rifle cartridges were among the casings recovered.

Lasundra Ward said a group had gathered for a vigil for one of her loved ones, a 36-year-old woman who had died days earlier after battling cancer.

“I was over there holding a ball when it happened,” Ward told the Sun-Times during Wednesday’s event. “There were only adults and small children there.

“We don’t understand what happened.”

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