VIOLENCE PREVENTION GROUPS RECOMMIT TO LONG-TERM GOALS WHILE ACKNOWLEDGING BIG SETBACKS IN 2020
Organizations working to prevent gun violence remain committed to getting Chicago back on track after a devastating year that has taken the lives of nearly 800 people and wounded thousands of others. In a zoom press conference, representatives of Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P), READI Chicago and Chicago CRED
said, “2020 must be an aberration, not a trend.”
Depending on the final number of gun-related deaths and injuries, 2020 will either be the worst year since the 1990s or the second worst. Either way, said Vaughn Bryant, Executive Director CP4P & Metropolitan Peace Initiatives, “It’s a reflection of our deeply troubled times – from COVID to economics.
“Gun violence is a public health crisis, and it won’t be solved until we treat it like a public health crisis,” Bryant said. His organization has research from the Northwestern Neighborhood & Network Initiative (N3) at Northwestern University showing a positive impact on the communities they serve.
Eddie Bocanegra, senior director of READI Chicago said, “We cannot downplay the cost in lives and on communities, the unaddressed trauma, and our collective struggle to contain gun violence. At the same time, we know that our work is making a difference.” He also highlighted research from the University of Chicago Crime Lab showing that the men involved in READI Chicago are much less likely to commit violent crimes or be victims of violent crime.
Last January, after three years of 13-15% annual declines in gun violence, CRED Founder Arne Duncan and community leaders set a goal of reducing gun violence by at least 20% per year for five years, which would put Chicago more on par with New York and Los Angeles. In fact, gun violence is up more than 50% in 2020 for both homicides and non-fatal shootings. Nevertheless, Duncan said the goal remains the same.
“Chicago’s murder rate should be on par with other big cities. Right now, we’re not even close. We have to think and act very differently,” Duncan said. He recently called for more narrowly defining police responsibilities, shrinking the department and shifting hundreds of millions of dollars from policing into a variety of community-based approaches to public safety.
Duncan highlighted the Roseland community where Chicago CRED has heavily invested in outreach, counseling, life coaches, job training and education. This year, Roseland had a 17% drop in homicides although non-fatal shootings rose by 23%–which is still well below the citywide increase of 57%. (as of 12/26/20. Source: City of Chicago Violence Reduction Dashboard.)
Next year, the total public investment from local and state sources in violence prevention programs like CRED, READI and CP4P is approaching $60 million dollars. Private funding will boost the overall investment to approximately $90 million. Nevertheless, it remains a fraction of the overall spending on policing, prosecutions and prisons, which runs into the billions, just in Cook County. Health care for gun violence survivors costs billions of dollars more.
The press conference also featured remarks from Angela Hurlock, the Executive Director of Claretian Associates, which works to reduce gun violence in South Chicago and is one of 16 community organizations that make up CP4P. Chad Mitchell, a participant in the READI Program and Dameian Anderson, a participant in CRED program also spoke.
For More Information:
Peter Cunningham – Chicago CRED, 312-636-8619, email@example.com
Bridget Hatch – Metropolitan Family Services, 312-579-6541, firstname.lastname@example.org
Barbara Hoffman – Heartland Alliance (READI Chicago), 708-574-8222, email@example.com