Families Hope for Positive Change as Pritzker Declares Gun Violence a Health Emergency

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As Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared gun violence to be a public health crisis, setting aside $250 million to combat the issue, families who have been victimized by that violence hopes are expressing hope that something positive will finally be done.

Alan Scott, whose daughter was killed six years ago in a shooting near the intersection of 74th and May, is someone who’s life has been completely changed by an act of violence.

“It is raw pain. It’s indescribable, actually,” he said. “I’m not going to let anyone forget what happened to her. I miss her.”

On Nov. 1, 2015, Kaylyn Pryor left her grandparents’ home, and was looking to catch a bus home to Evanston when gunfire rang out.

The 20-year-old later died from her injuries, and her father says he thinks about her death every single day.

“You hear about it every day, and I’m so sick of it. I just want to see a change,” he said.

In announcing the new funding, which he says will aim to “directly reduce and disrupt violence” in neighborhoods, Pritzker also announced several new initiatives, including the Reimagine Public Safety Initiative, a partnership with Breakthrough Urban Ministries FamilyPlex in Chicago’s East Garfield Park.

“This work is urgent,” he said. “This is about children who are being gunned down among us, as it is about so many others.”

Funding will be focused on a wide variety of areas, including youth intervention, development and trauma services.

Public health researchers and experts have been calling on government officials to treat gun violence as a public health threat for years, and Scott says he is hopeful that officials are finally listening to those calls, and acting on them.

“The investment is into our kids. We need that investment,” he said. “There are some smart kids out here, and they are dying every day.”

While that funding will slowly begin to be distributed, Scott is much more concerned about one thing: finding the person who killed his daughter, and to that end, he will hand out fliers on Tuesday, asking residents near where the fatal shooting occurred to share information that will lead to the killer.

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