CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) said the coalition of political and business leaders who attended a meeting he organized Wednesday to discuss strategies to quell street violence will make the latest efforts the most effective yet.
Rush convened the meeting in the wake of the death of Chicago Public Schools teacher Betty Howard, who was killed by a stray bullet in what the congressman claimed is the most violent police beat in the city.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the high-powered discussion at Rush’s office on East 79th Street – a block from where Howard was shot – brought Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis to the same room as Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“The city’s committed. All the different agencies and departments are working in a coordinated way to put its shoulder to the wheel,” the mayor said.
ComEd President Anne Pramaggiore was among the business leaders who joined the discussion.
“We are here today, and we are willing to support this community to bring jobs to this community,” she said.
Rush said it’s employment that will help young people in the neighborhoods turn away from violence.
“We’ve had already there was a commitment of 500 jobs. We want to increase that to something like 1,500 summer jobs,” he said.
A job training program also was envisioned, and some group members planned to meet again Monday.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine took a look at some positive developments those leads are hoping can work citywide.
They’re the work of those unwilling to write off this community or its people. Some are still on the drawing boards, but others are already here, and working.
In any other neighborhood, Flex Coffee might not be extraordinary with women at one table talking about a new school right next to men playing round robin games of chess or checking email using the cafe’s Wi-Fi. In Chatham, though, Flex is a symbol.
“It’s making a statement that you can be successful in the black community. that you can open up a business and the black community will come out and support it,” said Chatham resident Dwight Reed.
Flex was opened a year ago this month, by a mother and daughter team.
“My mother went to Portland and studied at one of the top consulting schools in the nation for coffee. We came back we scouted this spot, put a huge investment in,” said Zuli Turner.
Rev. John Hannah, pastor of the 19,000 member New Life Covenant Church, challenged a local liquor store where he said gangbangers hung out. Now he’s got a much younger target.
“Our church opening a daycare center to try to get our hands on those kids as young as we can,” said Hannah. “Trying to grab them. put our hands on them as young as we can and keep our hands on them.”
People like the Turners and pastors like Hannah are starting to show the way and support from those Congressman Rush brought together Wednesday, could lead to more options for the people of Chatham.