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Rush: Reach Out To Children To End The ‘Culture Of Violence’ In Chicago

Rep. Bobby Rush

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill) (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — In the wake of a headline-grabbing rash of violence in Chicago, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) says people need to invest time with children and provide guidance to combat a perpetual “culture of violence.”

Rush is seeking to accomplish that goal by engaging father at a special program this Father’s Day weekend. He talked about that, and the recent spate of violence, on the CBS 2 Morning News Friday.

“There is a culture of violence that exists in this city. It’s deep-seated. It’s embedded into our culture, and what we’ve got to do – those of us who are concerned; those of us who are responsible; those of us who care about our city – we’ve got do dig deep and cut this cancer out,” Rush said.

Last weekend, nine people were killed and 53 were wounded by gunfire in the city, and Chicagoans were terrified by three violent mob attacks downtown and in River North and Streeterville. Violence has continued in the week since; overnight Wednesday into Thursday, at least three people were killed and seven more were injured in a rash of shootings and a stabbing.

Rush says in seeking a way to stop the violence, examining the root cause is crucial. And that root cause, he says, is a huge population of children who are born into a dead-end life.

“You can’t expect young people who are born without any hope; who are born without any opportunities before them; who are born in communities that have been disinvested in for decades now – they are turning to ways, I believe, certainly, that are detrimental to all – violence; other kinds of anti-social behavior. But I think that deep down, they are looking for attention,” he said.

The consequences of this sense of hopelessness are devastating, and people need to step up to make a difference, Rush said.

“I am so concerned. On Saturday – each and every Saturday – week after week, month after month, year after year, I see more children in funeral homes and churches, going to funerals between the hours of 10 and 2, every Saturday,” he said. “I’m very upset with this issue. I know most Chicagoans; most Americans are. But let me just tell you this – this is the one thing that I think that we all should do about this. We can invest time with children – not just our own, but time with children. It really does take a village to raise a child.”

This weekend, Rush’s program, “Reconnecting Fathers! Reconnecting Families!” will urge fathers to make their communities a better place and help end the plague of despair. The conference will be held at the Illinois Institute of Technology from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

“We’re going to have a free breakfast. We’ll have a documentary, “From Fatherless to Fatherhood” – an award-winning documentary. We’re going to have a panel discussion. We’ll have a free lunch. We want to engage fathers; engage men – African-American men – in a conversation about fathers. It takes more – we want fathers to be daddies. We want the community to be a daddy. And so we’re taking advantage of Father’s Day activities.”

The goal of the program is to make men into role models, Rush said.

“We’re trying to attract people who have an interest. Maybe we don’t have all the skills. Maybe we don’t have all the strategies. But we also want to – those of us who are in positions; those of us who want to contribute – we want to find out, ‘How can we contribute? How can we be mentors? How can we be fathers to some of these youngsters?’” he said.

On Sunday, Rush will hold a ceremony at the Beloved Community Christian Church, 6340 S. Harvard Ave., where he serves as pastor. The Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church, and Curtis Moore, a retired police officer who raised six children by himself, will be honored with Father of the Year awards.