Senator Jacqueline Collins, Majority Caucus Whip, 16th Senate District

 

Dear friends,

The shooting last night at a funeral in Gresham has shocked our community. I know there is fear, outrage, and sorrow. As my prayers go out to the victims and their families, I am also pledging action on my own part and demanding action on the part of our city and state leaders.

We face two pandemics in Chicago. Both spread and perpetuate themselves. And we already know how to end both. We know the solution to the coronavirus is to bring our resources to bear to support public health and follow the science. We know that to end the pandemic of violence we need to stem the flow of guns, drugs and gangs, and address the poverty, disenfranchisement and criminalization of communities of color in Chicago.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote: “Few are guilty, but all are responsible.” The gunmen are guilty of this cowardly crime, but we all must bear responsibility in ending this cycle of violence. I urge anyone with knowledge of these crimes to come forward and work with police.

And it must be said that police need to foster a relationship of trust that starts with reform and accountability. This has to be a two-way street.

The shootings of last night and the past several weeks must stop, but in order to truly end it we must not waver in our mission to rip out the roots of violence: Poverty and structural inequality.

We continue to act in the General Assembly to attack the causes of poverty in an attempt to fix the root causes of violent crime in Chicago. The state legislature created the Commission on the Elimination of Poverty to explore ways of ending the cycle of poverty in Illinois. I was among those who supported a minimum wage increase to $15, which will proceed in stages over the coming years, as well as the legalization of cannabis for adult use with the most robust social equity provisions in the country’s history. I advocated for increased funding for violence prevention, youth employment and Teen Reach programming in the state budget this year. I am speaking with advocates and experts about how we can address the vast disparity in banking and home lending between white and Black and brown communities.

Gresham is an epicenter of the two pandemics, and for the same reasons. We can’t give up on our efforts to end them simply because the solutions are costly or inconvenient to those in power. A person who wears a mask protects another from COVID-19. A child with a bright future and a supportive society does not pick up a gun. We know how we need to act, and we need to act now.

Sincerely,

Jacqueline Collins
State Senator, 16th Illinois Senate District

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