CHICAGO — Mayor Lightfoot participated in a safety town hall Monday night regarding violence in the city.
Residents who turned out for the meeting were from all across Chicago, but a group representing the West Side came out specifically to ask officials to invest millions to help reduce crime in their neighborhood.
While homicides are down six percent this year compared to the same time in 2021, Lightfoot recognized that there’s plenty of work to be done. The mayor said Chicago’s abundance in crime is a public health crisis that is not a one size fits all solution.
“A lot of it revolves around a lack of investments in people and places for far too long,” Lightfoot said.
That resonated with long-time Garfield Park resident Etta Johnson — who is beyond fed up with crime in her community.
“The killings, selling of drugs, breaking into garages, breaking into homes,” Johnson said. “We can’t even walk our dogs.”
To advocate for change, Johnson has teamed up with Roger Romanelli, coordinator for the West Side Infrastructure Coalition and Executive Director of the Fulton Market Association. He claims millions of TIF (Tax Increment Financing) dollars are available for Garfield Park.
“If we can spend over $100 million in TIF money in Fulton Market and Navy Pier, you’re damn right we need to spend $10 million on the West Side to save people’s lives.”
Romanelli is asking the city to consider a $10 million plan to invest into Garfield Park.
It would include near cameras and lighting, security cameras for residents, hiring residents to clean the neighborhood up and more money for substance abuse recovery centers.
Earlier Monday, Chicago announced a plan to reimburse residents for security cameras. Johnson said she is a bit skeptical.
“Until I see it for myself, after 20 some years of being promised this and promised that,” Johnson said. “Nothing has been done, so when I see it I’ll believe it.”
Monday night’s townhall marked the fifth one in the past several weeks. The last one in the set is scheduled for Tuesday night at Truman College from 6 to 8 p.m.