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Mitchell: County commissioner says gun violence warrants a 'state of emergency'

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Cook County Commissioner Richard R. Boykin wants Gov. Bruce Rauner to declare a state of emergency in Chicago and Cook County in response to the spike in gun violence.

In January, 51 people were murdered and 292 people were shot in the city.

The outspoken commissioner says he will hand deliver his request to the governor’s downtown office at the Thompson Center on Thursday.

“We have been in a state of emergency relative to gun violence since last year, and it is interesting the governor did not make one mention of gun violence in his State of the State address,” Boykin said.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for Rauner’s office declined to comment since the governor has not yet received the request.

OPINION

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However, there’s been little support for such a declaration in the past.

But with the ongoing state budget impasse negatively impacting some of the structures put in place to help reduce gun violence, and President Obama’s address to the Illinois General Assembly next week, Boykin said the time is right.

“With a state of emergency comes resources from the federal government. The state, due to its failure to really come together around these issues, is causing persistent poverty and additional violence. The city can’t do anything because they got a mayor wounded badly and a Chicago Police Department that has lost credibility,” he said.

Services that would be sought as part of Emergency Federal Assistance include “tactical neighborhood stabilization teams coordinated by the feds, federal law enforcement support and emergency economic investment,” according to a spokesman for Boykin.

Governors usually declare a state of emergency in the wake of natural disasters.

Recently, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency for Flint as a result of the contaminated drinking water crisis.

What’s going on in Chicago is a man-made disaster that shows no signs of abating.

The Rev. Robert McCottrell, pastor of New Dimensions Church in Austin, whose own son was a victim of the recent gun violence, is inviting young men between the ages of 16 and 25 to “put down the guns,” at a “Stop The Violence-Enough is Enough” Town Hall meeting on Friday. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the church, 5440 W. Gladys.

In order to stop the violence, law enforcement must first get back control of neighborhoods that are being held hostage by shooters.

It would be great if adults in these communities would rise up and take back their homes and streets by turning in illegal guns.

But at this point, so many families have been ensnared by the gang culture that violence has become the norm.

We need to find a legal way to get the guns out of the hands of gun offenders and bring some semblance of peace to these communities before we can even think about dealing with the issues that led to this breakdown in the first place.

Boykin appears to agree with this point.

“Businesses and manufacturing that brings jobs will not come in as long as you got a zone of terror. They are afraid insurance rates are too high or that their employees will be robbed or killed,” he said.

“We haven’t been willing to admit that we basically have been living with this level of terror and violence. Somebody has to stand up and say something and do something,” he said.

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