Tipping Point: Violence escalates, Chicago residents desperate - FOX 32 News Chicago

Chicago at the Tipping Point: Residents desperate for solution to violence

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The last several days in Chicago have been especially violent bringing the issue to what some would call a "tipping point." More than 50 people have been shot since Friday. But what can be done to stem the violence?

State Rep. Ken Dunkin, whose constituents live in the shooting-plagued neighborhoods, Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart spoke with FOX 32 News on Tuesday about steps toward a solution.

The detectives in the district housing the intersection of 51st and Wentworth are some of the best in the country, and have been inundated with cases due to the escalating violence in Chicago. Still, the Chicago Police Department says the number incidents compared to the same time last year are decreasing.

State Rep. Ken Dunkin's constituents live in Englewood and other areas of the city that are currently plagued with shootings. He said the reports are hard for people to understand.

"It's very difficult to understand first why we're having crimes with young people in general across the city. The police have jobs, an image to protect. Higher ups I'm sure are concerned about their boss - which is us," Rep. Dunkin said. "We need protection in our neighborhoods. As we try to create jobs, come up with quality schools, health care, we need to emphasize safety and protection. The citizens deserve equal protection under the law."

There were 46 people shot over the weekend and eight more shot on Monday beginning at 1:00 p.m. Rep. Dunkin (@RepKenDunkin) described the increased amount of activity as astonishing. He thinks the National Guard needs to get involved.

"We have to come together and identify those individuals who are being the urban terrorists that we so detest. The police have to play a page role. If the police can't do it, we need to consider calling in the National Guard or the state police, where citizens can be protected," Dunkin said. "A large proportion of those individuals who are shot are innocent bystanders. This wouldn't happen in any other community in the city, as often as it is on the South and West Sides."

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said bringing in the National Guard is an option that should be left to the very end.

"We have been able to do a lot of work so far, and we continue to do that with a lot of different agencies. Everybody has been hurting as far as personal-wise," Dart said. "You need staff to be on the street. Calling out National Guard is seen as a last-ditch issue."

There is also concern throughout the city that the violence will, or has already had a negative impact on tourism. Rep. Dunkin is the chairman of Illinois' tourism committee. He spoke to encouraging tourist to visit Chicago despite the violence in some areas.

"We have an incredible city in spite of this rare uptick of gun violence. It's important to make sure tourism is live and well, because a lot of the people in these neighborhoods depend on that economy. It's a matter of us getting a handle on it right now," Dunkin said. "My emphasis is on the superintendent, the mayor, us and the community to wrap our arms around this and we have to be protected. It's not a good conscience for politicians not to have an opportunity to protect the people. If the superintendent of police cannot do it effectively, we need reinforcement at the state and possibly national level to sees this culture in our community."

Rep. Dunkin said that unfortunately, the socioeconomic status of the next victims will have a large impact on the type of help Chicago will receive and how fast it will come to the city.

"We have come up with strategies that add value to the lives of all the people," Dunkin said. "We're disgusted with this violence."

Community activist and religious leader Father Michael Pfleger said he didn't initially believe the report when he heard about crime being "down" in the City of Chicago. Regardless of the headlines, he said the community wants to hear about solutions.

"I don't know that I'm believing it, but I know it's something we need to hear. We don't need to hear when there's 46 people shot, seven killed on the weekend, or that things are better," Pfleger said. "We need to hear how we're going to deal with this. People are afraid. A 10-year-old kid in my church didn't want to come home from vacation. Kids shouldn't have to live like that and think like. That college kids are not coming home from college."

Father Pfleger announced on Facebook and shared via Twitter (@MichaelPfleger) that he wants people to get involved this Friday, the last day of the public school year:

Father Michael Pfleger on Facebook:

"I'm asking my FB Family to join me at St. Sabina this Friday June 21st at 7pm on the Church steps for a Rally and March to call the Community to OCCUPY THE STREETS this Summer! Friday marks the end of the School Year and the 1st Day of Summer. AFTER LAST WEEKENDS BLOOD BATH, WE MUST MAKE A DECISION TO BE THE SOLDIERS ON OUR STREETS THE BOOTS ON THE GROUND, WHO ARE VISIBLE AND TAKE AUTHORITY! PLEASE JOIN ME AND SPREAD THE WORD THRU ALL YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA..... LET'S SEND A STRONG MESSAGE AND TAKE A STAND! OCCUPY THE STREETS!!!!!"

"We need the communities to get out in the streets and take advantage of the Occupy Movement," Pfleger said. "Go out in our neighborhood. Go out in your streets. Let's take authority and take presence in the streets and let's make sure we control our streets. Stop waiting for the police to do it. Let's do it ourselves."

Father Pfleger doesn't think the National Guard is the only thing Chicago needs to curb the violence. He thinks the community needs much more.

"These are abused, neglected communities. Let's get jobs, good education systems, alternatives. Let's give some infrastructure," Pfleger said. "We have abandoned these communities and they are perfect storms for violence."

But the question is, how can the community convince kids not to resort to activities that lead to violence when some can make $1,500 per transaction. The activity pays pretty well short term, compared to the hard work over time it would take to walk away and lead a more productive life.

"We have done it," Pfleger said. "For seven months we have watched young people out here. 95% of the brothers in the street do not want to shoot, kill or sell drugs. We have given them jobs and GED classes – and they do well."

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy released a statement to FOX 32 News Tuesday morning.

"Whether it's police, clergy, community organizations, parents or residents, we all have a role to play in continuing to reduce violence because no amount of murders or shootings is acceptable," Mccarthy said. "While we've had fewer murders to date this year than any year since the mid-1960s, there's more work to be done and we won't rest until everyone in Chicago enjoys the same sense of safety."

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