Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot attended a town hall meeting Wednesday to discuss additional safety plans her administration is putting in place, with more than 200 people attending the event at Chicago State University.
Lightfoot, facing a 2023 campaign that promises to focus heavily on crime and safety issues, said that meetings like the town hall at CSU are not a “stunt,” but instead part of a grassroots effort to tackle issues of safety and violence.
“We are only getting out of the problem we have right now by being diligent, by working on the guns,” she said.
Round-table discussions were held at the event, with groups of community leaders, faith leaders and residents talking about the root causes of violence, and what strategies can be implemented to improve safety.
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“We must do better to reclaim our history and to invest (in these areas),” Lightfoot said.
“It really is an all-hands-on-deck issue,” Morgan Park resident Dallas Wright said. “To have such a diverse collection together, and to have buy-in from the city backed up with words, I’m really excited and hopeful.”
Police Supt. David Brown says that investment in communities is a critical part of the plan to help increase safety.
“Policing is not a solution to problems with children. Our community and government can help facilitate that plan,” he said.
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that investing in mental health care services is key, and that the need has gotten even worse during the COVID pandemic.
“That need has only gotten worse with COVID,” she said. “As of last year we have seen a tripling of our mental health budget, and seven times that of 2019.”
All officials involved in today’s meetings said that more work needs to be done, and events like the roundtable are aiming to help direct funding and resources where they are needed most.