Nearly 1,500 people from CRS congregations and neighborhood organizations across the city filled Liberty Baptist Church on Chicago’s south side yesterday to take action in the spirit of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community leaders asked pointed questions of Chicago mayoral candidates, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, and more than 20 city and state elected officials. And we won commitments for action on issues of police brutality, jobs, community violence prevention, and education funding reform. Watch the video.
“Dr. King called us to speak truth to power,” said the Rev. Cy Fields, pastor of New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church and CRS board member. “We are here today to get commitments from our elected leaders and the candidates for mayor of Chicago. If you want to represent our neighborhoods and our city, we believe that you should have to answer these questions. We have been talking for too long; now it is time for action!”
Mayoral Forum – Jobs and Housing, Restorative Justice, and Police
Mayoral challengers, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Bob Fioretti, and William “Dock” Walls, all participated in the event and made public commitments to support a community benefits campaign to create jobs and housing on the west side, fund community-based violence prevention work, and create real accountability for police misconduct. Dr. Willie Wilson did not attend, but Commissioner Robert Shaw spoke for the candidate and echoed those commitments. Despite numerous invitations, Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not attend the action and has made no commitments on the issues presented.
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle – Restorative Justice
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle also attended the action. The President committed to working with the organizations that make up the Reclaim Campaign to increase funding for violence prevention and reduce the detention of low-level offenders in the Cook County Jail. In December, the county passed a budget that included a new fund of $500,000 for community-based Restorative Justice programs in response to the advocacy of the Reclaim Campaign.
Westside Community Benefits Campaign – Jobs and Housing
West side elected officials committed to supporting the Westside Community Benefits Coalition’s call for a signed Community Benefits Agreement with the Gateway Development Partners to ensure local residents benefit from the jobs and housing created by the $300 million Gateway development in the Illinois Medical District expected to bring 1,000 permanent jobs to the community. Aldermen Jason Ervin, Walter Burnett Jr, and Emma Mitts, Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele, Representatives Arthur Turner, La Shawn Ford, Camille Lilly, and Pamela Reaves-Harris, and Senators Don Harmon, Kimberly Lightford, and Patricia Van Pelt, affirmed support for a Community Benefits Agreement with local residents.
Removing Barriers for People with Records and Education Funding Reform in Illinois
State legislators made commitments to support bills that will reduce bars to employment for people with criminal records in schools, park districts, transit, and health care system. Legislators also committed to supporting comprehensive education funding reform that includes a fair weighted formula, an increased base level of at least $7,000, and revenue measures designated for education to fully fund the new formula.
We thank the legislators who committed to supporting the 2015 CRS legislative platform: Senators Daniel Biss, Jacqueline Collins, William Delgado, Don Harmon, Kimberly Lightford, Kwame Raoul, Heather Steans, and Patricia Van Pelt along with Representatives Kelly Cassidy, Laura Fine, La Shawn Ford, Robyn Gabel, Greg Harris, Camille Lilly, Pamela Reaves-Harris, Al Riley, Arthur Turner, and Emanuel Chris Welch!
Send your legislators an email now. Thank them for coming to the Faith in Action Assembly or tell them that you want their commitment on these vital issues of criminal justice and education funding reform.
Our Faith in Action Assembly, honoring Dr. King, was a great event, perhaps the largest in Chicago in 2015. Let's put this momentum to good use. Make (or continue!) your commitment to move forward with the great work of CRS.