Take the pledge to end violence

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Cook County Commissioner Richard R. Boykin, former Chicago Bears great Charles “Peanut” Tillman and over a dozen community leaders will kick off the 2017 #RespectLife campaign to end neighborhood violence on Friday.

The 4 p.m. event will be hosted at the Austin headquarters of BUILD, a Chicago youth and violence prevention organization that anchors the campaign. More than 80 youth leaders, community groups, civic leaders and elected officials are involved.

“Stopping the cycle of violence begins with a commitment to treat other people with respect,” said Commissioner Boykin, who launched #RespectLife in summer 2016.

“People lash out when they are angry or afraid, and that almost always begins with feeling disrespected. We can’t solve problems peacefully if we allow negative emotions to take over.”

The #RespectLife campaign is built around a formal pledge to seek alternatives to violence when faced with conflict, and focuses on young people who are at greatest risk of being touched by a violence epidemic that claimed over 700 lives last year in Chicago last year, including dozens in Austin.

The pledge emphasizes the importance of respect for life as a core ingredient of strong communities and successful lives.

“Every human being deserves respect,” said Adam M. Alonso, executive director of BUILD. “We won’t always agree with people, but we can respect each other’s dignity. That is a simple promise anyone can keep. That can be a very powerful commitment.”

As part of the #RespectLife campaign, BUILD and other violence prevention organizations will encourage young people and families to sign the pledge while promoting peaceful ways to resolve disagreements.

Elected officials and community leaders are asked to model this commitment while working for public policies and resources to stop the cycle of violence.

To learn more about the campaign, call (773) 227-2880.

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