Three anti-violence organizations pledged Tuesday to work together to tamp down gun violence in the North Lawndale neighborhood.
Chicago CRED has 300 people working in the city’s 12 most-violent neighborhoods to resolve gang conflicts by helping draft nonaggression agreements. The peacekeepers are assigned to violence-prone intersections or other hotspots.
The groups’ collaboration was announced during an anti-violence rally in Douglass Park that included Aldermen Michael Scott (24th) and Michael Rodriguez (22nd).
“We’re struggling with public safety,” Scott said. “Not having commonsense gun laws federally affect us locally. So, guns out on the street all the time are really big problems for us. My job is to try to find economic development and resources to come back to this community.”
Norman Kerr, the director of violence reduction for the city, said Chicago was spending less than $1 million a year on violence reduction three years ago. The city is spending about $30 million this year.
“We all understand that gun violence is more than a crime problem. It’s a public health problem. It’s an opportunity deficit,” Kerr said. “It has its roots in economic injustice. And the solution goes far beyond traditional policing.”
Kerr said he knows intervention work can save lives.
Chicago CRED spokesperson Peter Cunningham said there are 45 peacekeepers in North Lawndale, with about five assigned at each hotspot. At least six people will be added to the neighborhood.
Brena Palms-Barber, executive director of the North Lawndale Employment Network, said her organization’s partnership with READI will aid violence prevention.
“Our families are struggling with mental health issues, the lack of access to health care and the weight of systemic racism. And it does lead to poor choices in poor environments,” said Palms-Barber. “So it’s much more complicated, much more sophisticated of an issue than just simply giving people a job.”
“There are Black and Brown tensions between Little Village and North Lawndale. Some of these organizations are involved with the groups here,” said Cunningham. “We get to know these organizations, and we try to get them to negotiate peace agreements to stop the shootings.”