Chicago community gathers to pitch ideas on how to stop the surging violence

If there's one thing Chicagoans agree on, it's that the violence is out of hand.

"Crime and criminals have become emboldened. They do it in the open now," said Deputy Police Chief Larry Snelling of the Chicago Police Department.

A crime summit Monday at the University of Illinois Chicago sought solutions from many angles — from police and prosecutors to businesses and educators.

The panel discussion also included victims of crime, including Angela Gregg whose 4-year-old son was shot this year. Her proposals include tougher sentences for child killers and crime units to track them down.

"Make it something where people know if you want to come to Illinois, if you want to come to the city of Chicago and you want to shoot the child, there will be a special investigation unit coming after you," said Gregg.

Other big topics included getting guns off the street, breaking the cycle of violence, and what police can and cannot do to help during a wide-ranging, sometimes passionate discussion.

"Some of the rappers out here now are funding the guns and funding the gangs," said Deputy Police Chief Larry Snelling.

"They’re really crying for help and if we’re going to be invested in our safe communities, we have to listen to those cries well before they enter the system," said Michelle Mbekeani of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

One community member questioned police deployment.

"I know the smash-and-grabs are happening downtown, but people are dying in the blocks," they said.

A police officer added, "this problem isn’t a police problem" and said we need to address why kids are committing acts of violence.


State lawmakers LaShawn K. Ford and Frances Hurley held this summit as they look for legislative fixes, including funding.

"If we don't appropriately use funds to make sure that we help heal the communities, we're going to continue to see this problem," said Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago.

"We have more to hear, more to learn. And we can take all the information and try to put it together and come to some solutions. The conversation isn’t over," said Rep. Frances Hurley, D-Mt. Greenwood.

Clearly one summit can't fix it all. Representatives Ford and Hurley plan more meetings and encourage anyone with possible solutions to stopping the violence to get involved with their House Public Safety and Violence Prevention Task Force.