IL Black Caucus Condemns Looting, Understands Frustration


Members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus detailed their ongoing fight for racial equality and called for an end to the looting at a press conference Tuesday at a recently looted mall in south Chicago.

“What we see is the pent-up anger and frustration and neglect manifested in a very ugly way, but the pain is ugly, and when people have had enough it manifests in all its forms,” Senator Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, said at the event. “But don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone destruction of property, especially in our own communities, where you lay your own head.

“But I understand the feeling of hopelessness people feel. And I’m sick of people telling me and us in the Black Caucus what to do instead of just giving ourselves and our people opportunities.

Lawmakers launched their call amid ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died May 25 in Minneapolis after being grounded for nearly nine minutes with a white policeman’s knee on his neck.

Representative Kambium Buckner, D-Chicago, said he has been on the streets of his community every day since last week talking to young people.

“For generations black parents and guardians have taught all of our children the same thing: act a certain way, don’t go certain places to avoid confrontation. It’s basically an instruction from us to discuss how to stay safe from the police, ”Buckner said. ” Let’s be realistic. Being respectful didn’t work for Chris Cooper. Avoiding confrontation didn’t work for Ahmaud Arbery, not going to certain places didn’t work for Breonna Taylor, and doing as you’re told didn’t work for George Floyd at all.

Buckner said people were rightly angry, but warned it couldn’t be “like every time” a black person is unjustly killed.

“We need to channel our energies in the right direction and support our young people to lead the charge to make this happen,” he said. “But I also can’t rightly sit here and talk about three days of looting in our community – which is wrong – unless I cry out for decades of looting our community, our schools or of our hospitals, of our hopes, of our dreams, of our dignity This time must be different.

Black Caucus members also presented political initiatives, listed existing legislative victories, and called on white leaders from both parties to act on behalf of black communities.

State Senator Elgie Sims, a Democrat from Chicago, said the Black Caucus has worked to make Illinois the first state to allow body cameras, to ban the use of choke, to permanently fight racial profiling, remove barriers to unemployment and obtain various licenses, and made de-listing more accessible to non-violent offenders.

” The fight goes on. And we will continue to work to reform our state, our criminal justice system, which has all too often criminalized poverty, mental illness and addiction, instead of addressing the underlying challenges of years of chronic disinvestment and under – produces negligent benevolence policies. ”

Lawmakers said they fought this session to include funding for black communities in the state’s appropriation of federal funding from the CARES Act, and that education programs and other initiatives important to women minority communities have not lost the necessary financial assistance.

Invest in places hardest hit by looters, lawmakers say

Going forward, lawmakers have said they want the government to invest in communities hardest hit by looters, many of which were African American neighborhoods on the south and west sides of Chicago, according to the Chicago Democratic Representative. , Lamont Robinson Jr.

“Our job is done for us,” he said. “We do not accept burnt storefronts and looted stores will be the monument to George Floyd. To rebuild, we need lenders to make sure the capital is available. We need the programs and services of our state and local governments focused on bringing these businesses back to viability, for the good of our communities. “

Robinson said he owned an insurance business in the south. His business was spared, although several of his neighbors were affected by looters. He said calls to the police went unanswered in the community.

“I have worked hard with my fellow entrepreneurs to build a worthy commercial band for our clients,” he said. “And now we have to figure out how to rebuild from this devastation.”

COVID-19, deadly combination of devastating protests for business

Robinson said the property damage was worse for businesses already reeling from shutdowns forced by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated stay-at-home orders.

“We don’t need rhetoric or empty promises from the city or the state,” he said. “We need assurances that resources will be readily available and accessible to rebuild our businesses and communities, the same resources that will be available to our downtown and north side counterparts.”

Dr Stephanie Johnson, owner of the Plano Vision Center, said her business was hit by looters. The company provides non-profit services to children, adults and low-income and minority families on the South Side.

“I don’t know if you can imagine being a black business owner, seeing the majority of your black community come in and loot and there is nothing you can do,” she said, adding later that those who did. helped clean it up restored it. Faith. “I saw young people meet me here that day, cleaning the window. It did good to my heart.

Yet, she said, the property can be replaced, and “that doesn’t compare to the devastating loss” of “countless other black lives lost to anti-black prejudice.”

Executives also insisted on spending money on local businesses once they rebuilt.

Chicago Democrat wants Pritzker to sign executive order

Representative La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, called on the governor to sign an executive order “to immediately respond to the crisis in our community.” Lightford called on lawmakers to create an inclusion office that will be confirmed and “set in stone” by the Illinois Senate.

She also called for police reform that includes accountability to the public, a rehabilitative justice system and access to resources to rebuild minority communities, as well as diversity in governing boards and management. companies.

“We have far too much to accomplish for the looting to continue to take away our message that black lives matter,” she said. “And we are tired of asking for basic human rights. We demand our humanity and I will not let this moment pass. “

Lightford called on those at the press conference to “come to Springfield, bring your organizations, testify, advocate, be present, not only in the black community, but in the Statehouse, and we will do better for our people.”


What is Capitol News Illinois and why does the BND publish its articles?

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit news service that covers the Illinois State Government to members of the Illinois Press Association. The Belleville News-Democrat is a member of the IPA. The BND publishes articles from Capital News Illinois and The Associated Press to complement our staff’s state affairs coverage, which focuses on southern Illinois lawmakers and regional issues.

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