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Report Back: Lobbying Against Violence

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On Wednesday, March 22, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC), Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and Grassroots Collaborative brought the People’s Agenda, a set of bills aimed at reinvesting in the People of Illinois, to the state capitol.

On this trip to Springfield our main goal was to meet with Illinois House members and ask that they co-sponsor the Violence Prevention Act (HB3166—Rep. Stratton), a comprehensive bill to prioritize five key areas of investment in order to stem the violence escalating in communities: street intervention programming, youth jobs, after school program investment, trauma-informed care, and supports for those in contact with the criminal justice system. Our meetings with legislators were productive, we gained 6 co-sponsors, including Elizabeth Hernandez (D-24), La Shawn K. Ford (D-8), Robert Martwick (D-19), Marcus C. Evans Jr. (D-33), Justin Slaughter (D-27), and Will Guzzardi (D-39).

busOn the bus to Springfield, Berenice Flores and Ebonee Stevenson, community organizers with BPNC and Grassroots Collaborative respectively, facilitated a Spanish and English training for our intergenerational group of 23 people on why we’re talking with our representatives and how to go about doing so.

“We are parents from different neighborhoods,” said Flores, and the “lack of resources there are for our kids is why we’re here.”

Stevenson added, “so we can stop begging for crumbs and start getting what our communities really need.” She encouraged folks, “If you see legislators who you want to talk to, don’t be afraid to speak. This is our show. We are fighting for our babies.”

9-year-old Sonya Sifore said, “It felt really good to lobby because I knew I was fighting for my rights and other people’s rights. I feel great that I got a representative to represent our state Illinois.”

Andres Barrera, BPNC member, said, “I felt as though the work that was done today was important but often neglected. We often hear about how only these rich corporations often lobby to get their point or law across but we often forget that we also have the power. It was interesting to meet the people who pass these laws that directly affect me and my community.”

Above all, our group expressed gratitude and concern. BPNC member Marivel Miranda said:

Es un gusto estar en este recinto en nuestro estado Illinois. Fue muy satisfactorio por el echo de que algunos de nuestro representantes nos apollaron en nuestros propositos, sobretodo en la violencia en nuestra ciuda de Chicago IL; mi mallor preocupación es tontas muertes de niños en los calles. Ojala este viaje nos sirva como comunidad para parar esta que esta afectando a tantos jovenes de nuestra ciudad y de nuestros barrios. Brighton Park es una comunidad que a sido muy afectada en todo, como lo mencionadado antenormente, como con los recortes en nuestras escuelas, que cada una de nuestras escuelas son templos de la enseñanza para nuestro hijos y futuros hombres y mujeres de vien en nuetra ciudad.

It’s a pleasure to be in our state of Illinois. It was very gratifying because some of our representatives supported our purpose, especially around addressing the increased violence in our state. My biggest concern is deaths of children in the streets. I hope this trip will serve our community, to stop this from affecting so many young people of our city and our neighborhoods. Brighton Park is a community that has been very affected in everything, as mentioned above, as with the cuts in our schools. Our schools are temples of teaching for our children and future men and women from around the city.