Black Politicians Unite After Murder of Rep. Danny Davis’s Grandson

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., (left) joins his fellow black elected officials at a City Hall news conference to outline their plan to combat violence after the murder of Davis' 15-year-old grandson Javon Wilson. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., (left) joins his fellow black elected officials at a City Hall news conference to outline their plan to combat violence after the murder of Davis’ 15-year-old grandson Javon Wilson. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

The murder of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis’ 15-year-old grandson over a pair of gym shoes has united black elected officials in a way not seen in decades to combat the entrenched poverty that’s fueling Chicago violence.

On Monday, dozens of African-American politicians came together to demand that at least 10 percent of city, county, state and federal funds be spent in neighborhoods where at least 20 percent of the population has lived below the poverty line for the past 30 years.

In Chicago, that would be “nine or 10 endangered communities,” including Englewood, Austin and West Garfield Park.

At a City Hall news conference, Davis noted that 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.

“Just suppose that the state of Illinois was doing that. Just suppose that the county of Cook, the city of Chicago, that the Water Reclamation District [was doing it]. You would have resources coming directly to communities that are most in need and the impact would be so great, you’d wonder if you weren’t in heaven,” Davis said.

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.

“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,” said Boykin, who plans to introduce the 10 percent spending mandate to the County Board.

“Much like we sought out to have the will to re-do the South Loop [and] the West Loop, we can seek to . . . re-do communities that have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs to Mexico, to China and other places. And we must do that.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson called for a White House conference on inner-city violence before President Barack Obama leaves office, culminating in a Great Society-style rebuilding program with Chicago as the guinea pig.

Without mentioning Mayor Rahm Emanuel by name, Jackson took a veiled shot at a mayor who has spent his second term trying to rebuild forgotten inner-city neighborhoods and win back the support of African-American voters who elected and re-elected him.

“A hundred-thousand vacant homes and abandoned lots was not caused by black officials. Closing 50 public schools and laying off 5,000 teachers. When those schools went down, the housing and poverty rate went [up]. . . . Neighborhood grocery stores and cleaners went down with them,” Jackson said.

“The net growth of jobs [is] in the suburbs where our transportation does not reach. That’s why it needs to be a White House conference using Chicago as a model for urban reconstruction.”

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SOURCE: Chicago Sun Times, Fran Spielman

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