*Rev Al Sharpton is moving to Chicago’s West Side.
The plan is to draw greater attention to the gun violence that plagues the city. Toward that effort, Sharpton said he will rent an apartment and commute home to New York weekly for the next two to three months. Joining him in the same undisclosed building is Martin Luther King III.
Supporting their move are several West Side leaders in the business and faith communities. Also, Congressman Danny Davis says he welcomes the attention this visit will bring.
Rev. Sharpton preached two sermons Sunday morning at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ.
Chicago’s Cornell Square Park, the scene of Thursday night shooting that claimed 13 victims
*Good Lord. The shooting and mass violence situation in Chicago seems to getting worse instead of better.
Earlier this week there was the mass shooting in Washington, DC at the Navy Yard that resulted in a dozen people being killed.
In Chicago last night another mass shooting occurred. 13 people, including a 3-year-old boy, were wounded.
It happened Thursday at about 10:15 p.m. local time in a working-class neighborhood called Back of the Yards in Chicago’s South Side, NPR’s Cheryl Corley reports.
She adds that “one witness told the Chicago Sun-Times that men fired at him from a car before turning toward a park. That’s where the victims — several adults, two teenagers and the 3-year-old, were shot on a basketball court.”
As of dawn Friday, Cheryl says, “no one had been taken into custody. Police were interviewing victims to determine the circumstances but say the shooting appears to be gang-related.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, the 3-year-old “suffered a gunshot wound to the head at an ear that exited through his mouth, and was in critical condition at Mount Sinai Hospital, police said. The oldest victim, according to the Tribune, was 41 years old.
This is horrible, horrible news. Get the full story at NPR.
*Pastor Corey Brooks of New Beginnings Church Chicago and Project H.O.O.D. (Helping Others Obtain Destiny) have embarked on an epic cross-country walk from New York City to Los Angeles on June 5.
The group plans to make stops along the way in various urban and rural communities. Project H.O.O.D.’s “Walk Across America to End Violence” is the second phase of the movement’s ongoing fundraising efforts to develop a state-of-the-art community and economic development center on Chicago’s South Side.
Project H.O.O.D. gained nationwide attention when Pastor Brooks took vigil atop of an abandoned motel for 94 grueling Chicago winter days. This was done in an effort to bring awareness to the endemic violence in Chicago’s Woodlawn and Englewood communities and raise $450,000 to purchase the land and demolish a community eyesore that had long been associated with drugs and prostitution. Fortunately, this phase of fundraising culminated with an impassioned – and unexpected –donation of $100,000 from media mogul Tyler Perry, who learned of Pastor Brooks’ plight while listening to the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show.
Project H.O.O.D’s Walk Across America to End Violence aims to raise $15 million to complete the building project designed to give children and families on the South Side of Chicago the resources and tools they need to become extraordinary leaders in their own communities.
“It’s going to take more than just this ‘walk’ to stop the senseless violence. That’s why we’re engaging grassroots organizations, spiritual leaders and community leaders from far and wide,” said Brooks. “This is an issue that crosses racial lines and spiritual denominations. It’s going to take all of us, coming together, to achieve our goal – eradicating violence in our urban communities.”
A few days later, the 16-year old rapper was dead. Some think that Jojo’s death certificate was signed when he spoke negatively against Keef, and some of his friends were even dumb enough to brag about it on Twitter. Words like “Rest in piss” came from kids who seemed happy that Jojo was shot in the face so that his mother could not have an open casket in his funeral.
This crime was heavy on my heart as I did an interview in Chicago on my favorite station, WVON. I was there to promote the Janks Morton film, “Hoodwinked,” but I found myself reflecting on how we’ve failed our young people. Most of us who celebrate our nation’s first black president have nothing to say when politicians are asked to respond to growing violence in cities like Chicago, where kids can’t walk to school because of the risk of gunfire.
My people, we have let down an entire generation, and it’s coming back to bite us. Every time we overlook our own inaction and simply blame the parents, we are excusing ourselves for not working as mentors for kids who have no parents. Whenever we act as though politicians have no obligation to speak on the violence in Chicago, we are allowing another child to die because of our silence. Every time we excuse companies like Interscope Records for producing weaponized psychological genocide in the form of entertainment, we are adding a bit more acid to the poison (please scroll down to listen to the Chief Keef song to know what I’m talking about).
The fact is that these kids belong to all of us and now all of our kids are in danger because we’ve done almost nothing for those kids who have been abandoned by their parents.
Now, it’s time to pay the piper.
The prison industrial complex, urban violence, inadequate educational systems and massive unemployment now serve as four of the dominant threats to the black family in America. As black women lead the nation in STD infections, many of these infections can be linked back to women being forced to date men who have very little to live for and don’t protect their health. The same can be said about the declines in black family wealth, and many other problems that impact our community. We must realize that these issues affect all of us and not just “those people.”
The bottom line? We can all make a difference. We must pick up those kids who need a parent and give them some kind of encouragement. We must form viable political coalitions that command respect from the White House, Congress and any other politician who dares to ignore us. We must teach and educate one another on our personal power and mandate that we all play a role in improving the conditions of our youth. Millions of our lost children are nothing more than corporate commodities produced by gun manufacturers, hip hop music labels, and liquor distributors. They are influenced by what exists in their “hoods,” and we must destroy these influences where they exist.
Dr. Boyce Watkins
Jojo is not the only 16-year old to die in Chicago this week. His twin brother is also being threatened with death, and there are thousands of other 16-year olds who will never grow up to become anyone’s mother, wife, husband or father.
This is what our community is faced with if we do not act. It has literally become a life or death situation.
(L-R) Ameena Matthews, Cobe-Williams and Eddie Bocanegra of the PBS Frontline film "The Interrupters"
*Over the course of a year, filmmakers shadowed three ex gang members in Chicago known as Violence Interrupters, whose sole purpose is to sense when violence is about to jump off, then, step in and stop it from happening.
Filmmaker Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) and author Alex Kotlowitz (“There Are No Children Here”) embedded themselves with Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanegra as the trio used whatever street cred and gift of gab they could muster to keep young men and women from going down the path of no return.
The footage has been made into the two-hour award-winning documentary “The Interrupters,” which premieres Tuesday (Feb. 14) at 9 p.m. on PBS as part of its Frontline series. [Check local listings.]
This must-see film captures Ameena, Cobe and Eddie inserting themselves into numerous unstable situations, including two brothers in opposite gangs threatening to shoot each other; a frustrated teenage girl just home from prison, brewing tensions in a group home and a young man hell bent on revenge.
Ameena Matthews mediates an argument in PBS' "The Interrupters"
The film also takes time to explore the personal journeys of the three Interrupters. Ameena’s father, Jeff Fort, was the co-founder of Chicago’s notorious Black P. Stones gang. She followed him into the gang lifestyle and got caught up with a drug ring before eventually turning to Islam, leaving the illegal activity behind and joining the Interrupters – a part of Chicago’s violence prevention program CeaseFire.
“Nine times out of ten, the people that we deal with, the participants that we deal with, they know us from our past,” Ameena told critics at the Television Critics Association press tour last month. “And if we’re talking them down from a situation that they may have known from our past, and we may have reacted in a way that they felt is justifiable for them, and we’re talking them down, it’s really profound for them to sit back and say, damn, she or he is telling me to stand down and I know for a fact back in the day what you would have done, what you did do, so maybe I need to sit back and take a look and weigh the consequences all the way out.” [Scroll down to watch Ameena in a clip from the film.]
Flamo and 'Interrupter" Cobe Williams School Each Other in PBS's ‘The Interrupters'
Below, Ameena says there are multiple ways for anyone to be an Interrupter. She also reveals the differences between intervening on boys and girls, and the film’s producer-director Steve James explains just how seriously Ameena takes her job.