Pastor Anthony Williams lost his son a year ago to gun violence, and just recently his nephew, Brian Walton Jr., was shot while waiting for a driving test at a Secretary of State’s driver services facility in south suburban Chicago Heights.
“As citizens, we are calling on our state representatives to support a resolution declaring violence as a disease,” Williams said in a statement. “Once the resolution is in place, it is in our hope we will work on a comprehensive bill that would approach violence as a disease.”
Last year, the Chicago Police Department declared 561 people were murdered in the city – dozens of those killings occurred in Austin.
“Persistent disinvestment and concentrated poverty means the lack of viable opportunities,” Teresa Córdova, director of UIC Great Cities Institute, said in a statement. “This amounts to an assault on dignity which correlates with violence.”
Rep. Ford believes a solution to violence must be a top priority with summer approaching, when murder rates increase.
“As we stand by the victims of violence, we call for a solution,” Ford said in a statement. “Given the history of violence in the summer, we must take the initiative now to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to prevent future violence in our communities.”
The state lawmaker and Williams last year appeared on WTTW to share their thoughts on what can be done to end violence.