Chicago had it’s deadliest month in almost 20 years when the city ended August with 92 homicides and 400 wounded. The death statistics were the worst since October 1997.
According to The Huffington Post, Fr. Michael Pfleger of South Side’s St. Sabina Church has called on Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to issue a state of emergency after receiving three calls in one day to hold funerals for slain victims of gun violence.
“If the city is broke, Chicago needs to be declared a state of emergency so we can get federal resources to come in. I’m told we’re down 1,000 police officers; schools are underfunded and whole communities look like a tornado went through it.”
However, Rauner rejected the idea, stating that he doesn’t believe it would fix the problem. “No thoughtful leader thinks that’s a good idea or would really provide a solution,” he said. “In fact, it may exacerbate other problems.”
Chicago has had 483 homicides so far this year, more than Los Angeles and New York combined.
As governor Rauner contiues working towards a solution, community members have also started doing what they can to bring about change on another level. Mothers Against Senseless Killings, MASK, has begun patrolling the area around the corner of 75th and Stewart in the city’s Englewood neighborhood, engaging with neighbors and handing out food.
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MASK president Tamar Manasseh says that while shootings have increased in the neighborhood overall, their block has seen progress as a result of the MASK patrols. “The city needs to start encouraging their residents to come out into the streets and on their blocks. The city, the community and the police need to be on the same page and they’re not,” she said.
Manasseh, like many members of the community, believes that investment in mental health, schools, job training, neighborhoods, and tougher gun laws will change Chicago’s deadly reputation. Still, the community can’t do it alone.
“You think the mayor hasn’t heard about us? You think the [CPD] superintendent hasn’t heard about what we do? Neither one has reached out and said, ‘How can we expand this? How can we get this going in other neighborhoods?’ I have to believe they’re not as interested in solving this … as you may think.”