Illinois governor calls gun violence a public health crisis

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CHICAGO — Illinois Governor JB Pritzker declared gun violence a public health crisis Monday and launched a new initiative to fund violence prevention across the state.

With this executive order and hundreds of millions of dollars toward safety, state leaders said Illinois is leading the country in reimaging public safety.

Pritzker was joined by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and several elected officials on Chicago’s West Side or the signing of the order.

“We are united in our commitment to end gun violence in Illinois,” he said. “We will do what it takes individually and collectively to address the immediate violence on our streets.”

Pritzker said the Reimagine Public Safety Imitative and the new state Office of Firearm Violence Prevention will help develop a cure for the crisis.

The new initiative promises $250 million from federal and state funding to provide grants for the organizations on the ground doing the work — $50 million for the rest of this fiscal year and $100 million each in the two years after that.

“We’ll be there with you and we’ll support you in applying for these grants,” Lightfoot said. “Fundamentally folks, this is about saving lives and we must be there for each other.”

“This is what is needed to change the economic reality for communities that have been damaged by historic disinvestment,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.

Investments will be made in prevention, intervention, youth development programs and trauma recovery.

“If we want to bring an end to violence we need to follow those who are already leading the way,” Pritzker said. “Every neighbor, every home deserves to be free from violence and that is the crux of this initiative.”

The leaders a said the goal is to notify organizations about the money available by the end of this year, getting that work underway by next summer.

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