CALLS FOR “REIMAGINING” PUBLIC SAFETY REFLECTED IN CRED-RUN FOCUS GROUPS
URGING PUBLIC HEALTH APPROACH TO FIGHTING GUN VIOLENCE
As a first step toward fostering dialogue on how Chicago can “reimagine” public safety, Chicago CRED released a summary of nine focus groups with community partners on the South and West Sides of the city. The focus groups came on the heels of a city budget survey showing broad public support for shifting resources from policing into community services.
Marcus Yancey, a community development consultant, led the focus groups, which were conducted virtually during the months of September and October with participants recruited by organizations that partner with Chicago CRED to reduce gun violence. Yancey summarized the conversations, highlighting a broad range of issues, from trust and communications to diversity and the pressing need for more community investments.
In his report, Yancey said that there was little support for “defunding police” in the strict sense, but there was broad support for reallocating some of the police budget to fund community outreach, drug treatment, mental health and other services that could support a “public health” approach to fighting gun violence.
“Most participants in the discussions did not have a deep disdain for police officers, but many felt police officers were inefficient and overly aggressive at doing their jobs. It is also clear that many believe mental health and substance abuse are primary drivers of violence in our city,” Yancey wrote.
In addition to CRED, several violence preventions organizations helped recruit participants in the focus groups, including IMAN, Target Area Redevelopment Corporation, ALSO, and Institute for Non-Violence Chicago (INVC). Participants included outreach workers, life coaches, gun violence survivors, many of whom were formerly incarcerated, as well as community leaders, residents, and a few elected officials. The participants in the focus group were promised anonymity so they could speak freely about police. The report includes a broad selection of anonymous quotes chosen by Yancey and CRED Staff from more than 13 hours of taped focus groups.
CRED founder Arne Duncan welcomed the report as a first step in a much larger conversation Chicago needs to have about the root causes of gun violence and how the City can address it.
“People understand that police have a role to play but we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. Young people most at risk of shooting or being shot are the solution and we have to engage them directly while rebuilding their communities,” Duncan said.
As a next step, CRED will be sponsoring a series of open community meetings on the topic of reimagining public safety. CRED also plans to structure similar conversations with police and other stakeholders. The full report is available here.
Chicago CRED and our partners had the opportunity to sit down with the Obama Foundation to discuss how we've been working to counter gun violence by investing in young, high-risk men in the South and West Sides of Chicago. Click here to read the words, the wisdom, the personal stories of struggle, and the insights from members within our organization.
In light of the COVID-19 social distancing and stay-at-home directives, we have been gifted the opportunity to engage our participants in real and interactive virtual conversations with celebrities, experts, influencers, industry leaders and more. As such, we are producing a series of interesting, informative, entertaining and engaging Virtual Interactive Interviews we are calling “CREDTALKS."
Click the links below to watch:
Caron Butler is a former NBA player for the Miami Heat, LA Lakers, Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, and LA Clippers. Butler is a two-time NBA All-Star and was the 2002 Big East Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year.
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Dr. Omar Lateef, CEO of Rush University Medical Center & Dr. Khalilah Gates, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care and Medical Education at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.
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Real Redemption: From Life Sentence to Life Saving with CRED Life Coach, Father of Englewood's own "Lil Dirk" and Former Life Sentenced Inmate, Dontay Banks.
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A Mother's Love, Loss, and Legacy: Stephanie Brown, a mom turned Violence Prevention Activist after the senseless murder of her son (Darius Brown) at the hands of a drive-by shooter on a basketball court.
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NBA All-Star Luol Deng talks NBA, Philanthropy, and Chicago.
6-time Grammy Winner and Chicago's own Malik Yusef talks gangs, Grammys, and the journey in between.
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Formerly convicted drug trafficker turned American author, philanthropist, and motivational speaker, Richard Donnell "Freeway Ricky" Ross, talks about critical thinking, comeback stories, and creating new narratives.
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Minnesota State Senator, Jeff Hayden, discusses the devastating murder of George Floyd, protests, how they dealt with anarchists, and what's next.
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Amidst the increasingly devasting rise of gun violence and deaths in Chicago, the CRED team hosts a very REAL discussion. Who's affected and what can we do?
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Getting to peace reflecting on innocent lives lost & mobilizing a plan for peace.
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CRED Clinicians spotlight the emotions, depression, fears, and PTSD that have heightened and developed as a result of the threat of COVID-19, murder by police, racism and hate crimes, gun violence and killing within our own communities, and news and social media overload in Today's America.
Panel: Dr. Donald Tyler (CRED), Dr. Necole Muhammad (CRED Women), Dr. Lynelle Thomas (I AM ABLE), and Coach TJ Crawford (MAAFA).
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Fred Hampton Jr, son of a Black Panther Party Leader.
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Co-owner and President of AGB Investigative Services (Always Giving Back), the largest black-owned security company in the nation, John Griffin Jr. talks about his journey to Black Entrepreneurship and how he's managed economic inequality.
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Lessons on looking back while moving forward with Arshay Cooper, former Team Captain and author of A Most Beautiful Thing: The True Story of America's First All-Black High School Rowing Team.
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Royce White is a former NBA player for the Houston Rockets, author, and mental health awareness advocate.
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A conversation with Chicago's own Rapper, Entrepreneur, and Kanye West Collaborator.
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From life sentence to second chances: mistakes of a teenager with Steven Hawthorne.
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"What really needs to happen" in Chicago.
Violence Prevention Organizations Reflect on 2020 Gun Violence Surge
Call for Increased Funding in Outreach and Community Approaches to Public Safety
Three leading violence prevention groups in Chicago came together today for a Zoom press conference to reflect on 2020’s surge in gun violence and to call for increased investment in community-based approaches to improving public safety.
Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P), READI Chicago and Chicago CRED all participated in today’s press conference, where they both acknowledged the progress of the last three years in reducing gun violence has stalled even as their programs show results.
Vaughn Bryant, Executive Director of CP4P and Metropolitan Peace Initiatives, works with more than a dozen community-based groups in Chicago intervening directly in gang disputes, providing direct support services, and steering young people out of lives of crime. He said “our partners are making a difference and we have to take the long view. Change is rarely a straight line but rather a series of ups and downs on our way to the desired outcome.”
“For a host of reasons—COVID, the economy, the George Floyd protests and ongoing systemic oppression—tensions are running very high and that’s driving up the number of shootings. We also know that our outreach programs are reaching the young people most at risk and guiding them away from crime. We just need to do more of it and sustain the effort long term,” Bryant said.
Bryant cited research from Northwestern University showing that CP4P groups contributed to the drop in gun violence between 2016 and 2019. Specifically, the study identifies, “a decline in gun violence beyond what might be predicted from historical patterns.”
Eddie Bocanegra, the Executive Director of READI Chicago, which engages adult men in an intensive program to help them cope with trauma resulting from significant exposure to violence, and develop skills that create pathways to safety and opportunity, cited early analysis data from the University of Chicago Crime Lab that indicates a considerable reduction in gun violence victimization among participants.
“Early results show that the guys in our program are remaining engaged and that they are less likely to shoot or be shot than peers in their same communities. These are among the highest-risk individuals in the city. If we had sufficient funding, we could expand access to READI Chicago. We know that doing so would make our neighborhoods safer,” Bocanegra said.
Arne Duncan from Chicago CRED shared several data points supporting their case for more investment in violence prevention programs. According to the City of Chicago’s violence reduction dashboard, fatal and non-fatal shootings are up by about 50% citywide in the first eight months of 2020 compared to the same time last year.
However, in two adjacent South Side neighborhoods, Roseland and Pullman, where CRED has heavily invested in outreach, therapy, life-coaching, education, job training and placement, fatal shootings are down by 33 percent and 50 percent respectively. In both neighborhoods, the rate of non-fatal shootings is way below the citywide average.
“If we had the resources to invest in every community the way we have invested in Roseland, we could begin to bring down the gun violence to levels that are comparable to other big cities like New York and Los Angeles. Police can’t do it alone. The answer is in the community,” Duncan said.
Jalon Arthur, CRED Director of Strategic Initiatives, shared data from the FLIP (Flatlining Violence Inspires Peace) Program, which has recruited about 350 people to intervene in gang-related tensions and create a safe presence in 77 hot spots spread across 12 Chicago neighborhoods.
FLIP workers typically work afternoons through early morning hours. CRED has tracked 395 separate mediations and 22 non-aggression agreements negotiated by FLIP workers. When they are present at the hot spots, gun violence incidents have dropped almost to zero, said Arthur.
“There are many more hot spots than we can cover, but when our FLIP workers are there, negotiating non-aggression agreements and mediating disputes, we’re saving lives,” Arthur said.
Duncan said that the organizations are grateful to the City of Chicago for investing $11M this year in violence prevention. He also saluted Cook County for investing $5M in violence prevention. But Duncan pointed out that local and state governments are still spending billions on public safety, prosecutions and prisons while most of the violence prevention programs are privately funded.
“Violence prevention is barely a rounding error in our public safety budgets. It’s long past time to begin shifting resources from over-policing, prosecutions and prisons and give many more young people a real chance in life through these kinds of programs. Chicago can lead the nation if we start to think and act differently,” Duncan said.
While recognizing that the city faces enormous budget challenges, the groups have called for $50M in city funding as well as major investments in state funding. A coalition of nurses and activists also called on Cook County last week to shift $157M in public safety dollars into community programs.
For More Information:
PETER CUNNINGHAM, CHICAGO CRED
BRIDGET HATCH, METROPOLITAN FAMILY SERVICES
PHONE: (312) 579-6541
MAILEE GARCIA, HEARTLAND ALLIANCE
CAA hosted a special CAA Amplify virtual Town Hall on June 17th, focusing on dismantling systemic racism in business and culture. The event brought together executives from leading organizations in entertainment, sports, media, brands, technology, and social justice in a call to action to end the systemic racism that has consistently oppressed black people.
Watch the conversation between Arne Duncan and Carmelo Anthony (NBA All-Star, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist) HERE.
370 Community-Based Mediators Working at 72 Gun Violence “Hot Spots” For Extended Hours During Memorial Day Weekend
Click here to watch the press conference.
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A coalition of organizations working to reduce gun violence will have an additional 370 community-based mediators and street intervention workers working overtime during the holiday weekend at 72 “hot spot” locations across 12 Chicago neighborhoods. Chicago CRED and Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P) called this, “One of the largest violence prevention efforts in Chicago’s history,” during an online press conference with outreach workers.
CP4P represents a coalition of community groups working in 23 Chicago neighborhoods to reduce gun violence. CP4P Executive Director Vaughn Bryant says the “hot spot” strategy can help contain this year’s surge in gun violence. Year-to-date, fatal shooting are up 13 percent and non-fatal shootings are up 24 percent over 2019, according to the City dashboard.
“We know where the tensions are high, and we know that direct interventions from trusted friends and neighbors can help deescalate conflicts. These young men and women are using their experience and their relationships to make their communities safer and we should all be grateful,” Bryant said.
Chicago CRED helps steer young people at risk into the legal economy by offering street outreach, life coaching, therapy, job training, and financial support. Chicago CRED Founder Arne Duncan said, “For three years, gun violence in Chicago has been steadily declining and we’re doing everything possible to keep moving in that direction. The courageous young men and women doing this work are a big part of the solution.”
The “hot spot” program, which is also called FLIP (Flatlining Violence Inspires Peace), employs participants in violence prevention programs as mediators to help deescalate conflicts and create a community presence. They have also been cross-trained to provide public health information related to COVID-19.
The program began in 2018 at 21 sites in three communities, expanded to 55 sites in 8 communities in 2019, and is now targeting 72 sites in 12 South and West Side communities: Austin, West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, Little Village, Englewood, West Englewood, Roseland, Greater Grand Crossing, West Pullman and Back of the Yards.
The FLIP program launched a month earlier this year than in past years, starting in late-April in some communities and is expected to run all summer and into the fall if funding is available. The total cost of the program is approximately $2.7 million.
Jalon Arthur, CRED Director of Strategic Initiatives, oversees the “hot spot” strategy implemented by seasoned CP4P and CRED partners: INVC, ALSO, Breakthrough, UCAN, New Life, Target, Acclivus, and CRED. He believes this strategy contributed to drops in gun violence during the last couple of summers but acknowledges this is, “One strategy among many that are collectively working to transform communities over time, and the impact in 2020 remains to be seen.”
Over Labor Day weekend in 2019, a group of 80 Chicago CRED members, staff, friends and family traveled from Chicago to Washington, D.C. to tour the historic Nation’s Capital.
Highlights of the trip included visits to African American cultural landmarks, including Howard University and the African American History museum. The trip also allowed the CRED men to leave Chicago during the holiday weekend, historically a period of heightened violent crime in the city.
In a ceremony on August 15, 2019 a crowd of family, friends and fellow CRED members celebrated as 52 graduates received their diplomas. The afternoon featured speeches from students and mentors, concluding with a spoken word performance from Grammy-winner J Ivy.
WTTW in Chicago profiled CRED's approach to solving the epidemic of gun violence in Chicago, at a time when the city deals with the annual summer increase in shootings.
The ConTextos Authors Circle was developed in collaboration with young people at-risk of, victims of, or perpetrators of violence in El Salvador. In 2017, this innovative program expanded into Chicago to create tangible, high quality opportunities that nourish the minds, expand the voices and share the personal truths of individuals who have long been underserved and underestimated. Through the process of drafting, revising, and publishing memoirs, participants develop self-reflection, critical thinking, camaraderie, and positive self-projection to author new life narratives.
On Friday, April 6, 2018, 24 more young men from Chicago CRED walked across the graduation stage. After months of work through Penn Foster's online degree program, they earned high school diplomas—another step in the journey toward transforming their lives and communities.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Emerson Collective Managing Partner Arne Duncan said, "Despite all the challenges and all the pain you sometimes feel, I am wildly optimistic about where our city is going to go. And it's not because of what us older folk are going to do. It's going to be because of your hard work, your leadership."
At NationSwell’s fifth annual Summit, Billy joined Emerson Collective Managing Partner Arne Duncan and two recent Chicago CRED graduates, James Collins and Deontae Allison, for an hourlong discussion to explore better avenues to dramatically curb shootings in one of our nation’s greatest cities. In the context of the work of Chicago CRED, Arne, Billy, James and Deontae implored the audience to draw closer to the root causes of gun violence, and to better understand the young men involved in some of Chicago’s most broken neighborhoods—and, most importantly, how peace and safety begins with creating new, reimagined relationships.
On March 24, 2018, millions of young people rallied around the world to end gun violence and enact policy reform. Men from Chicago CRED joined more than 400 Chicago youth at the event, adding their voices on behalf of the movement to end gun violence in Chicago.
Arne Duncan and Dale Erquiaga Op Ed in USA Today
Men from Chicago CRED recently participated in the ConTextos Chicago Project, an intensive writing program that incorporates peaceful conflict resolution with the power of personal memoir writing. The authors learned to “read as writers” as they authored powerful memoirs, engaged in constant conversation with their peers to learn how to disagree peacefully and give positive feedback, and finally publish their work in the form of beautifully illustrated books. These stories will be used to create conversations that build empathy with families, teachers, the community and others.
The CRED men have written a rich array of stories that are as varied as they are, each illuminating a personal journey marked by perseverance, hope, and a determination for many new chapters ahead.