Dozens of African-American elected officials gathered Monday in Chicago to demand at least 10 percent of all city, county, state and federal funds be spent in about 10 “endangered” neighborhoods, including Austin.
The united front comes just a few days after Austin Congressman Danny K. Davis’ 15-year-old grandson’s funeral. He was shot to death in his South Side home earlier this month over a dispute about a pair of gym shoes.
At a press conference held at City Hall, the politicians said neighborhoods where at least 20 percent of the population has lived below the poverty line for the past 30 years would be targeted.
Davis said the so-called 10/20/30 amendment is already in place in a handful of federal agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Justice, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin said “unemployment levels not seen since the Great Depression” are the driving force behind the 50 percent surge in homicides and shootings that has triggered more than 700 murders so far this year, more than 60 of those killings in Austin.
“Poverty is the worst form of weapon of mass destruction. . . . These communities have been disinvested in intentionally — and it’s been over decades of disinvestment,” the Chicago Sun-Times quoted Boykin as saying.
Boykin, who represents Austin on the Cook County board, plans to introduce the measure at the county level. The plan has been introduced in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives by Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, according to the Chicago Tribune.
DNAinfo reported that nearly 500 counties across the United States suffer from the kind of persistent poverty that would make them eligible for the plan’s targeted funding, Clyburn has said.
Davis decried “easy access to guns” and said “poverty also is a major contributing factor” to gun violence, according to the Tribune.
“Poverty is an enemy, no matter what your race, gender or ethnic background,” added Davis, who noted this is an issue that’s also of interest to Republican U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.