Chris Kennedy links his family’s tragedies to Chicago shootings

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy spoke at a forum Saturday on gun violence held at a church in South Shore. | Sam Charles / Sun-Times

Drawing parallels between the horrors his family has faced and the challenges facing Chicago, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy laid out plans Saturday he said he would enact to help curb the rampant gun violence in the city.

Several times during a 40-minute speech detailing his plans, Kennedy spoke of the residual effect that gun violence can have.

Kennedy spoke of “a boy” whose father was killed and the troubles he faced and overcame growing up.

“I understand how difficult it is to go to class, to go to school, to recover from that, to try to excel,” Kennedy told the crowd gathered at Windsor Park Lutheran Church at 76th and Saginaw in South Shore. “The ripple effect in the community is devastating.”

Kennedy’s father Robert F. Kennedy — the former general and U.S. senator — was assassinated in Los Angeles in 1968 as he was campaigning for president. Chris Kennedy was 4 years old at the time. His uncle, President John F. Kennedy, had been gunned down in Dallas five years earlier.

Kennedy laid out eight areas he said he believes would lead to a decrease in violence: boosting economic development, halting the flow of illegal guns into the state, doing more to mentor at-risk youth, putting a greater focus on using proven techniques to quell violence, acknowledging that violence will continue, making the police department better reflect the communities it serves; and reforming the criminal justice system.

In the last 10 years, South Shore, where he spoke Sautrday, has been the scene of more than 200 killings, according to Chicago Police Department data. Since the start of 2017, 16 people have been killed in the neighborhood — with seven killed in a single day in March.

Four were killed in the same shooting at Nadia Fish & Chicken, a restaurant located two blocks north of the church where Kennedy was speaking.

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