A violence prevention group is partnering with Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and the Chicago Police Department’s Wentworth District to expand its outreach efforts into the Douglas and Bronzeville neighborhoods after a series of fatal shootings.
“In the last two weeks we have seen an uptick in shooting in the Bronzeville community — especially in the 3rd Ward part of Bronzeville,” Dowell said during a virtual news conference Tuesday. “I think it’s important that we all pull together and do what we can to make our community safe.”
Acclivus Inc. will deploy street teams to engage businesses, residents and young people to see if they can help peacefully resolve any ongoing conflict before it turns violent. The group hopes to have a full team on the ground by April 1 that will consist of people from the community.
“We see ourselves as credible messengers at Acclivus and having those relationships that in many cases folks will have conversation with us that they would not necessarily feel comfortable having conversations with the police about,” said Bamani Obadele, the group’s director of civic and community engagement.
Acclivus will create a seven-person team consisting of four outreach workers, two case managers and a supervisor. The team’s boundaries will cover 35th Street to 22nd Street and State Street to Cottage Grove Avenue.
The not-for-profit organization sees community violence as a public health crisis and its flagship initiative is its Hospital Response Program. They work in five Level 1 trauma centers across the Chicago area providing care, needs assessment, case management services in hopes of reducing retaliatory violence.
The group also does anti-violence efforts in six communities — now seven with the addition of Douglas — through community engagement. The group also does outreach after a shooting incident to provide resources for residents in need of help.
John Hardy, field director at Acclivus, said it is important for them to speak and recruit young people who are “indigenous to these areas.” They also locate “hot spots” to target in canvassing, but they never go anywhere that they’re not wanted.
Hardy said it was important for them to set up shop in Bronzeville and Douglas since they are already in neighboring communities and violence often spills into those communities.
Acclivus will foot the bill for its outreach effort through funding it already receives from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and the Michael Reese Health Trust.
Bronzeville has seen a number of shootings in recent weeks. On Monday, a 24-year-old man was fatally shot along with a 47-year-old woman who was grazed in the leg. On Sunday, a 23-year-old man was found with gunshot wounds inside a vehicle and another woman was brought to the University of Chicago Medical Center in critical condition with gunshot wounds.
Wentworth District Cmdr. Joshua Wallace said the police department is bringing in its community safety team and other outside units to combat the recent spate of gun violence.
Sgt. Yolanda Walton said it was important to collaborate with groups such as Acclivus.
“No one entity can solve this crime by itself,” Walton said. “It is definitely a holistic approach that we take in adopting everyone’s philosophy as well as their viewpoints of how to mitigate the violence we have seen not just in the city of Chicago but throughout the world.”
Dowell’s office is putting together a meeting for residents to ask questions of Acclivus and the police department.