In the aftermath of a tragic weekend, 5th ward Alderwoman calls community Zoom meeting tonight.
TO JOIN MEETING: https://www.cityofevanston.org/…/Co…/Calendar/Event/16145/19 Meeting ID: 994 3632 9699 Passcode: 389376 AGENDA: Welcome -- Robin Rue Simmons 5th Ward Alderman
Remarks -- Mayor Steve Hagerty; Ald. Peter Braithwaite
Public Comment 30 minutes
Investigation update -- Police Chief Demitrous Cook
Gang Report -- Sgt. James Pillars
Youth and Young Adult Services -- Audrey Thompson
James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy Re-entry Services -- Patrick Keenan-Devlin
Neighborhood police update -- Officer Adam Howard
ALD. RUE SIMMONS' MESSAGE TO THE 5TH WARD, COMMUNITY
I hope this message reaches you healthy and well.
This has been an intense spring and summer. This weekend, as we all practiced our collective resilience in the face of the pandemic and tried to enjoy some summer fun, we were struck by a tragic string of violence, resulting in the deaths of two young Evanston men.
My thoughts and condolences are with the family and loved ones of Deashawn Turner, 21, who was shot and killed just after midnight on Saturday in the 2200 block of Emerson, and Andrew Williams, 29, who was shot and killed in the 1900 block of Hartrey in the middle of the day yesterday, a day before his 30th birthday.
In addition, last Thursday, Brian Carrion, a 20-year-old young man from Glenview was shot and killed near the Howard Street Red Line station and a 21-year-old Evanston man nearby was wounded.
My heart is also with each of you as we manage our own trauma from the violence in our neighborhood.
If you have any information, no matter how incidental, please contact the Evanston police or text an anonymous tip to “274637”. Start your message with EPDTIP (to ensure the tip is routed to the proper police department) and then provide any information you have.
Here are details about the shootings:
Evanston Police Investigate Possible Retaliatory Shooting on Hartrey Ave.
Evanston Police Investigate Early Morning Shooting
Evanston Police Identify Victim of the Homicide near the Howard Street Red Line
As I began this newsletter yesterday afternoon to address Deashawn Turner’s murder, I was interrupted by the next tragic shooting, and left my desk to offer support to my childhood friends who witnessed their nephew, their son, Andrew Williams, die in a pool of blood in his mother’s front yard as they celebrated his birthday with a family cookout.
Even after returning home yesterday, I could still smell the meat burning, charring on the grill, meat that couldn’t be removed because it had become part of a crime scene. I still see his bright red blood on the sidewalk, and I can still feel his loved ones’ trauma--though many of them are mostly numb.
My condolences to Andrew’s mother Kelly Young and the entire family, my prayers are with you all.
On Saturday, there were four shootings with dozens of bullets, and depending on where you live, you and your family may have flinched with each shot. I know how shaken you must feel and how concerned you must be for your families’ safety after this weekend. I am so sorry. This hits home for me too, not only as a community leader, but as a lifelong 5th Ward resident, friend, neighbor, and mother of two young adult children.
Although this violence was not random, it’s difficult to find comfort in that. When someone picks up a gun, we all suffer. Including the shooter. And for too many families, gun violence feels like a “normal” part of life.
Please know that our neighbor, police Chief Demitrous Cook, is using his resources to direct EPD and its partners in the investigations into these homicides.
The fundamental causes of this violence are far greater than any single institution, leader, incident, or philosophy. It's greater than any one beef. There is no single program or new hire that will magically solve our community problems or reverse the trauma.
There is no policing our way out of it or blaming our way out. This will take unity, one agenda, and pure intentions.
Everyone can participate in restoring safety:
-- Call the police and tell them what you know. -- Police: arrest the perpetrators. -- States Attorney: convict for gun crimes. -- Citizens: call for tighter gun legislation.
But most important, for a long-term resolution to this endemic problem, we must advocate for system-wide change.
We must, every one of us, support policies and practices that uplift low-income communities:
workforce development; economic inclusion; small business empowerment; citywide quality affordable housing; leaders with lived experience; mental-health programs; re-entry services; support for young parents; equitable education and technical training accessibility; health equity; and addiction-recovery programs.
And we must seriously and intentionally review our City budget to reallocate funding from our police and other budgets as necessary so that our budgetary decisions reflect our values and our priorities.
On Saturday, I spent the day walking the blocks most affected by violence, talking with neighbors and talking with EPD detectives, sergeants, and Chief Cook. I also had a brief ride-along with the Chief.
I have heard your feedback and I’ve given City of Evanston staff direction on immediate improvements that must be made. These include: brighter street and park lighting; brush removal; additional cameras; visible police presence in targeted areas; and learning more about the States Attorney’s role in enforcing punishment for gun crimes.
Based on my observations, I have requested additional services for youth and seniors living in the homes that were affected by the shootings.
Thank you to those working on violence prevention strategies and recidivism reduction every day. You are appreciated. A special thank you to our Youth and Young Adult Division and to the Moran Center.
In my day job, I am the Director of Innovation and Outreach at a Chicago nonprofit located in Woodlawn. A core tenet of my work is violence reduction strategies in acknowledgment of the “direct correlation between the absence of work and the presence of violence.”
I spend my days serving low-income south and west side entrepreneurs and my life is spent serving my family and serving you. While I serve you all as neighbors, my immediate neighbors are in census tract 8092. Our neighborhood has the most concentrated low-income families … and the most concentrated violence. In my lived experience and my professional roles I have drawn one conclusion about community violence and I have prioritized my leadership accordingly:
Community and interracial violence is a symptom of poverty, and our poverty is a condition of historical institutional racism, which permeates our policy and culture.
Yes, improved lighting and increased police presence can help deter and reveal criminal acts-- and that’s of paramount importance. But more arrests separate and displace families, reduces the self-esteem of our youth, and sustains poverty. More arrests continue the scourge of mass incarceration and high recidivism rates.
Yes, I demand arrests and convictions for gun crimes in Evanston, I also demand that our entire community prioritize the root causes of this violence.
And here is where I sound like a broken record: anything less than reparations is an inadequate policy response to the conditions and disparities in the Black community.
We have a societal debt that will require a participatory response from everyone in our community.
Although in Evanston we are advancing wealth-building reparative policy first, Reparations is not limited to compensation. Reparations should restore us to the full dignity that was stripped from us by Jim Crow,
segregation and redlining.
There are five components to full repair, and each is a priority. My hope for us is full reparations, which include:
-- Cessation: Assurances and Guarantees of Non-Repetition -- Restitution and repatriation -- Compensation -- Satisfaction; and -- Rehabilitation.
You can read more about the components of reparations.
This is not to excuse the shooters, nor is it a time to point out Black exceptionalism or point to the Talented Tenth as the example of the Black experience in our city. It is time to continue digging into the roots of our community challenges and work together on solutions.
If you have any recommendations on how we can eliminate community gun violence, please contact me directly at RSimmons@cityofevanston.org or any City Council member, or leave a message with 311 and I will return your call.
I will do more. I will try harder. Will you?
Deashawn Turner, Andrew Williams