A panel of Chicago Activist's speak on the harsh realities of the current state of Chicago.
Pastor Corey Brooks of New Beginnings church in Chicago believes that the crime and violence they are facing is a direct reflection of having over 70% of the households being run by single mothers. The children need mentors and active father's in their lives. He stated he sees a lot of sadness, anger, and hopelessness in these children, and all they need is someone positive in their lives. Father Michael Pfleger stated the city is a war zone, and it is the worst he has ever seen it. Communities have been abandoned, there is lack of funding for schools, lack of economic development and jobs. A lot of the people coming back into the community are coming out of jail, and are basically being set up to fail. At a funeral that Father Pfleger performed, he asked this question of those in attendance, "How many of you right now want to make a change, want to do something different, and stop being part of the problem and be part of the solution?" 150 "brothers" with tears in their eyes came up to him and saying "help me." A GED program is offered that Father Pfleger can get these men into, and programs to teach them something, but the problem is there are no jobs after that. He stated that without helping them , the city is promoting gangs and forcing them into a life of crime just to survive.
Brandon Smith, an independent journalist stated, that the government in the city of Chicago is trying to cover their own butts. The need to have guns and use guns doesn't just happen, stated Smith, they are created. The city and local government in Chicago has a lot of money it could spend to create jobs in communities where there are none. There is a program in Chicago called Tax Increment Financing that has a lot of money, and by no means is the city of Chicago broke. TIF is a program that can create jobs in areas that need them, and give a jump start to small businesses. Unfortunately this money is being given to big businesses and big companies who don't need it. Smith also stated we should be asking big banks why they don't give small loans to small businesses in these communities in Chicago.
Elizabeth Doizer , former principal at Finger High School in Chicago added, the children in these communities have many stressors put on them every day. Just walking to and from school these kids have to worry about their own fears and safety, and it starts at a very young age. This takes a psychological toll on them after months and years of this, along with underfunded schools and health issues. We ask these kids to just pick up and do better and it's not that simple. Doizer stated "if we don't take care of our children now, ultimately they will end up in the criminal justice system and we will end up paying for it later, rather than do right by them now."
Chicago police department and the Mayor's office were contacted to give their side to all of the problems in the communities, and defend themselves; none of the requests were answered.
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