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Faith leaders vow to do more to stop gun violence, urge city leaders to end blame game

Rev. Marshall Hatch said it is time for political leaders, CPD’s top brass and the courts to accept some responsibility and realize what they’ve been doing has been ineffective.

Rev. Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church discusses what faith leaders can do to fight gun violence in Chicago during a news conference in the 100 block of North Long Avenue in Austin on the West Side, Thursday afternoon, July 8, 2021. Chicago Police 15th District Cmdr. Patrina Wines was shot in the foot here over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

A half-dozen faith Leaders from the West Side gathered on the corner where a Chicago police commander was shot on the Fourth of July and urged religious institutions — including their own — to do more to stop gun violence across the city.

Rev. Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church said this particularly violent summer has led to an urgency to take action as the city emerges from the pandemic. He said after more than a year of limited services and operations at many churches, the institutions need to open everything back up because “the violence is much more of a threat to our young people than this virus.”

“Obviously, your summer camp, your mentoring program, your mens group is not enough,” Acree said. “Quite frankly, I am tired of the blame game … don’t just blame, do something.”

What exactly they plan to do still needs to be worked out, but Acree pleaded for his fellow pastors to get creative. He suggested hosting Friday night dances to get people off the streets and into a place where they can congregate safely. Leaders also plan on knocking on doors throughout the summer to get more people involved with church events.

“It’s unfortunate that we are living in an undeclared state of emergency,” said Acree. “Chicago is in a state of chaos. … It seems like now that no one is off limits. A 1-year-old child was shot in the head. A police commander shot, a Black woman who came up in the ranks in one of our South Side neighborhoods, she was out here mingling with the residents and she got shot.”

Newly promoted 15th District Cmndr. Patrina Wines — who’s been with the Chicago Police Department for 28 years and is known for having a warm relationship with West Side residents — was shot in the foot at the end of a Fourth of July party on Monday. A police sergeant’s leg was also grazed by a bullet during the shooting.

Rev. Marshall Hatch, leader of New Mt. Pilgrim MB Church, said it is time for the political leaders, CPD’s top brass and the courts to all accept some responsibility and realize what they’ve been doing so far has not worked.

After all sides admit fault, Hatch said, they should move on by developing a comprehensive plan to save lives.

“The point is we are going to do all that we can with what we have,” Hatch said. “We have not left these communities — I live down the street from here — our prayers are out for our Cmndr. Wines and the fellow officer and all of those who’ve been victimized.”

The leaders have set up an emergency meeting on the violence with members of the City Council’s Black Caucus and community groups at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at New Mt. Pilgrim MB Church, 4301 W. Washington Blvd.

Rev. Marshall Hatch, of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, discusses what faith leaders can do to fight gun violence in Chicago during a news conference in the 100 block of North Long Avenue in Austin on the West Side, Thursday afternoon, July 8, 2021. Chicago Police 15th District Cmdr. Patrina Wines was shot in the foot in the 100 block of North Long over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times