While the overall pace of homicides in Chicago has slowed compared to last year, the Fourth of July weekend was particularly violent: 72 were shot, and 12 of those victims were killed. That continued violence brought hundreds to attend a two-day “emergency” summit convened at Chicago State University by the Congressional Black Caucus this past weekend.
One of the hosts of the summit this weekend was Rep. Robin Kelly, who cited that holiday weekend’s violence as impetus for the summit.
Rep. Kelly won her chance to represent Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District this spring largely because she ran on a strong gun-control platform. She told host Melissa Harris-Perry after the summit ended that its goal was to glean ideas from constituents on what to do about the city’s continuing plague of gun violence.
“We really wanted to go back to the people–the people that are living in the communities, the people who are doing the work–to see what their suggestions were,” said Rep. Kelly on Sunday’s Melissa Harris-Perry. “It’s easy for some of us to say what should be done.” She added that the summit also sought to highlight some of the positive happenings in Chicago urban communities too often associated with violence and death.
One of those constituents was Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, who earlier this year lost her teen daughter, Hadiya Pendleton, in a park shooting in Chicago. She told msnbc reporter Trymaine Lee at the event on Friday, she also has a young son to worry about.
“I have to do things and be boisterous to protect him before he gets to where he’s going to go independently, walking down the street on his own, with certain privileges, and be misidentified as someone else,” she said.
Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson, who spoke at the first meeting of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys last week, cited cities’ loss of population and the “fragmentation of the gangs” as culprits. “When you disperse the heads of the gangs, the body acts errantly,” he said on Sunday’s “MHP” panel. “It sounds ironic, but there’s a lack of discipline, and they do drive-by shootings and the like.”
Additionally, he cited the lack of attention to the people afflicted by violence in their communities as being a factor in the exacerbation of the problem itself, alleging that the “radical demoralizing of poor people in this country” helps to top off a “powder keg, and it’s going off.”
Rep. Kelly also pointed out that young people at the summit were “crying out for jobs, mentoring, adults who care, something to do.”
One man was killed and 17 others wounded in Chicago-area shootings since Friday evening, per a report from the Chicago Sun-Times.
Watch the discussion in full below.