Chicago community leaders gather to discuss combating violence

- After another violent weekend in which 45 people were shot and two killed in Chicago, leaders from churches, community groups, as well as police and political representatives gathered at a South Side church to look for ways to combat violence.

“I called this summit because there’s been, what I would just say is the number one contributing factor to violence in Chicago has been division amongst its leaders and a lack of conflict resolution,” said Jedidiah Brown, President of the Young Leaders Alliance, who organized the summit.

Brown believes that protests, marches and rallies are doing little to deal with the violence. Some of those in attendance are hoping this summit can do what the marches haven’t.

“It seems for the past few years that’s all they've been doing is talking about the problems, it’s not really coming up with the solutions,” said Michael Sullivan, with the Sprinkler Fitters Local 281, who was there to push for jobs for the African American community.

The talks were to focus on a wide variety of ideas that included how to create job opportunities, how to shore up the black family structure, as well as criminal justice reform.

But Chicago has had two major summits in the last year, starting with one organized by Congressman Bobby Rush in June 2014 that promised change and then another in December with then-Attorney General Eric Holder. However, there was little to show for both of them.

In fact, Chicago Police crime numbers show that murders are up by 21 percent and shootings up by 17 percent, compared to this time last year.

And while the meeting was not open to the media, to allow those in attendance to speak more freely about their concerns and ideas, those in attendance expressed hope for change to come from this summit.

“I know it sounds cliché, we have to come to some type of common ground which is not very hard if we’re all working for the betterment of the community,” said Janella Curtis with Green Tech Camp.

Brown said a lot of good ideas came out of the meeting and he remains hopeful that this one can bring about some change.

“You have to keep pressing, keep trying. It will,” he said.

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