Reverend Ira Acree has sent an open letter to President Donald Trump asking for him to respond directly to Chicagoans when it comes to his remarks about the city's gun violence.
Here is the letter.
February 7, 2017
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
2016 was a virtual bloodbath in Chicago. When you consider the city's dismal homicide rate, it is unfathomable that 784 people were killed, and that the city was never declared a state of emergency. In fact, nearly 100 of those homicides came from the Austin community, the neighborhood where I have pastored for over twenty five years. While Chicago may be America's epicenter of violence, Austin is its ground zero. The homicide problem in Chicago is very complex, and there certainly is not one silver bullet that can be used to magically turn around this unprecedented epidemic. Many of us who live in these marginalized communities know that the violence is intrinsically tied to poverty, poor education, segregation, and hopelessness. The devastating social despair is the root cause of the heightened epidemic of violence that our city experienced in 2016 and now 2017.
Hiring more police, stopping the proliferation of guns and stiffer penalties for those illegally carrying guns will never drastically reduce violence in Chicago. That only addresses the symptoms of violence with minimal impact. What good is it to pour a cup of water in an ocean, when the levee is broken? You're doing something, but in reality it doesn't help at all. That's not transformation that's aggravation. Our community deserves a substantive resolution and transformation. I live and pastor in the most dangerous neighborhood in America, and it's time that everyone knows that in Chicago the levy is broken and the ocean is overflowing with the blood of our sons. While we ask our city, county and state leaders to invest in the creation of jobs, and in building the urban infrastructure of Chicago, I also call upon you, our 45th president, Mr. Donald J Trump to come to Chicago and come directly to Austin. Walk with me, other activists and some of the mothers victimized by gun violence in Austin, the ground zero of Chicago's violence.
I did not vote for you Mr. President, in fact with 60,000 votes from the 7th congressional district, I was elected as a Hillary R. Clinton delegate. Nevertheless, my candidate didn't win; but in spite of our differences, we are one country. So I unashamedly call on all the residents of these endangered communities of our city to welcome our president's help in addressing the social despair that produces the violence. Let's not sugar coat it, these neighborhoods are dangerous. I beg to differ with those local politicians and bureaucrats who get offended when people compare Chicago to Afghanistan and other war zones. Chicago is a world class city, but many residents live in terror, in what's a virtual war zone. Public safety actually depends on which neighborhood you live in. If you live in North Park you're safe, but in North Lawndale you're not. Lincoln Park is safe, but Garfield Park is dangerous. The Residents of Edgewater live in comfort, while those in Englewood are in a crisis.
It would be reckless and irresponsible for community leaders to sit back and do nothing significantly different to address the social despair, and expect to avoid an imminent blood bath in the remainder of 2017. Doing all we can to address this crisis, mandates us reaching out to the leader of the free world for resources and support. Our request is simple: President Trump, our commander in chief, and leader of our nation, please come and help us in Chicago.