(CBS) –The Congressional Black Caucus convened an emergency summit on urban violence Friday, looking for ways to stop the killing on the streets of Chicago and other cities.
Illinois members of the Congressional Black Caucus called for the meeting following Chicago’s exceptionally bloody July 4 holiday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel greeted those attending by saying Chicago is doing what it can, focusing on policing, prevention, parenting and gun penalties. Emanuel said the streets must be taken back for children.
“We need to make our streets safer so they have a normal childhood and it is not stolen from them by violence,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Cal.) urged the activists, ministers, politicians and others in the crowd to generate ideas.
“It is not about trying to press conference and having all off the answers in three minutes,” she said. “It is about the development of the plan that will come out of this and then let’s see how the Congressional Black Caucus, the White House, the Justice Department, the local mayors, the community activists all can play into the plan they develop.”
An assistant U.S. attorney general was also among the speakers, but Waters reminded reporters that the Obama administration and the Democratic Party do not hold the keys to the U.S. House of Representatives or to spending priorities, as a result. She placed the emphasis on the unorthodox, suggesting that negotiated “peace treaties“ between street gangs could help quell the violence.
One outside-the-box proposal came from veteran activist Wallace “Gator” Bradley, long known to be a conduit to imprisoned street gang leader Larry Hoover. He suggested that a “delegation” be sent to Hoover that would include a prosecutor, a doctor, a UN Human Rights representative, the Rev. Al Sharpton and a cameraman, who would record Hoover holding his grandchildren and urging gangbangers to work with the community, stop the shooting and stand united in peace.
Bradley said Hoover would do it if asked.
He said Waters’ suggestion of negotiated cease-fires has a chance for success because “the lines of communication are already open.”
The summit was not the first such meeting of its type. A similar brainstorming event occurred 10 years ago, and those who remembered it were mixed about the outcome.