Silence The Violence Rally

Last Friday a beautiful summer afternoon was suddenly transformed into a brutal Chicago summer storm just hours before a crucial anti-violence rally and march led by Mayor Richard M. Daley and Father Michael Pfleger.  By the rally’s start time the skies were back to their clear, calm, early-summer brilliance but the violent storm served as a reminder of the violence that erupts in Chicago and cities around this nation.

While the event was, predictably, under-covered by the local media (video here and briefly here) there was quite a list of mentionable civic and community leaders present for the empowering rally and march.  Joining the hundreds of concerned citizens in attendance were U.S. Senator Roland W. Burris, IL Senator Jackie Collins, Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis, CPS CEO Ron Huberman and many others.

The crowd read together a list of Community Take Back Demands as prepared by Father Pfleger that were concrete, detailed, and focused on addressing the violence in our communities with the assets of our communities.  Here is the list:

  • Whereas, we acknowledge that our community has been unlawfully seized from us while we were silent, and that we have not only the right, but the duty to take it back;
  • Whereas, we desire to improve the quality of life of those living in our community and acknowledge that all people deserve to live in a safe, loving and nurturing environment;
  • Whereas, violence and abuse in all forms are serious social problems that can be prevented and that everyone must work to end.
  • Whereas, as adults we are responsible for providing safety for our children and are called to secure for them their future.
  • Whereas, the strength of any community is found in its citizens living and working together in a spirit of cooperation across lines of class, culture, color and creed to develop, rebuild and sustain that community; and by working together, all are enriched.
  • Whereas, preventing violence and abuse begins with each one of us as individual stakeholders in our community;

We make the following demands of each citizen of our community.

  • We demand that every business that benefits from our patronage, whether uptown, downtown, or here in the community, whether small or large, employ at least one youth part-time or full time this summer.
  • We demand that park districts establish attractive quality programming for our youth.
  • We demand that every church, mosque or synagogue open its doors for youth, and develop and maintain quality youth programs to draw our young people off the streets. And call them to meet outside before Bible Study and choir rehearsal to create a presence in the community.
  • We demand that each citizen commit his/her support to community organizations and faith-based organizations worldng to end all forms of violence.
  • We demand that the residents of each block maintain the cleanliness and order of their property and turn on their porch lights at night.
  • We demand that each resident take charge of the safety of that block watch and patrol that block, hold outdoor block club meetings and activities for the residents and youth on that block.
  • We demand that CAPS hold their meetings outdoors during the summer.
  • We demand that every parent provides for and ensures the supervision of their children and enter into partnerships with the schools that their children attend.
  • We demand that all schools continue to make adequate yearly progress on strengthening the curriculum and teaching conflict resolution so that our youth become aware of their relationship to each discipline, are able to compete on the world stage and can see themselves and others depicted accurately in history.
  • We demand that the violence plaguing our cities be seen as a National Emergency and that Federal financial resources be given to cities for jobs for adults and youth, youth alternatives and strategies to stop the violence.
  • We demand that elected officials in Springfield and Washington ban assault weapons and stop the easy access to guns by titling guns like cars.
  • We demand that each citizen work collaboratively with the schools in their community to expand programming and improve their capacity to serve the needs of our youth and prepare them to give service to themselves, their families, their communities and society.
  • We demand that every parent, teacher, mentor, neighbor and street organization member challenge our fellow community members to recognize that they can be powerful without making others powerless.
  • We demand that each member of our community commit to treating one another with dignity and respect.
  • We demand that each citizen take a stand and never commit, condone, accept or remain silent about violence.
  • We demand that each citizen does that which is necessary and within his/her realm of influence and power to foster a community which is respectful, safe, and fair for all people.

For a detailed account of the rally with quotes from the various speakers, read this article by Chinta Strausberg.

Mayor Richard M. Daley

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About urbancongress

The Congress on Urban Ministry is a biennial conference that explores faith, social justice, and urban ministry as we seek a spirituality and a way of life that actively creates peace. Students, pastors, and community organizers engaged in and passionate about peace, social justice, and transformational urban ministry who attend often find this event to be the single most inclusive gathering of resources for ministry in the city and beyond. View all posts by urbancongress

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