More officials than solutions at Chatham anti-violence summit

SHARE More officials than solutions at Chatham anti-violence summit

The heaviest hitters in Chicago politics got together for more than an hour Wednesday to figure out what to do about gun violence in the Chatham community.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn were there. So were Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush played host to them and several other political, religious and business leaders. They all met behind closed doors at his South Side office in the 700 block of East 79th Street — less than a block from where special education teacher Betty Howard was fatally shot in the head last week.

But when the doors opened, the group had little new to announce beyond a “hope and healing” neighborhood festival, a commitment to make more summer jobs available in the area, a rough plan to open a job training center in a vacant building nearby — and an agreement to keep on meeting.

Rush acknowledged it was hardly the first summit of its kind.

“If you don’t get anywhere the first time then keep on trying, don’t give up,” Rush said. “And so we’re going to keep trying. The problem is that this kind of gathering has been too far apart. We need to consistently have these kinds of meetings.”

Rush said he’d already secured a commitment from the business community to roughly 500 summer jobs in the community. After Wednesday’s meeting, he said that number rose to about 1,500. The neighborhood festival will take place some time in the next month, he said.

As for the job training center, he said the group still needs to firm up the details — and put more “meat on the bone.”

The “working group” will meet again at his office Monday, he said.

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