After conducting an anti-gun violence meeting with more than 80 leaders Tuesday at Chicago State University, the Rev. Al Sharpton held a press conference at the studios of WVON 1690 AM and shared how he and other leaders planned to end the brutality in Chicago.
“It was a very fruitful meeting,” Sharpton said. “A lot of people felt that this connection was necessary and now they are willing to work together to end gun violence in Chicago.”
Sharpton said the purpose of the meeting was to bring leaders together and share different ideas on how they felt we should deal with the problems of gun violence.
In addition to Sharpton, the meeting included Chicago State University President Wayne Watson, the Rev. Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church in Austin, Minister Ishmael Muhammad, the Nation of Islam national assistant minister to Minister Louis Farrakhan, state Rep. LaShawn K. Ford (D-Chicago) and Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16th), among others.
Sharpton said he had a meeting for the leaders before a press conference because he wanted the leaders to be able to talk freely to one another without having to worry about being questioned by the media.
He said that he didn’t mind the leaders voicing how they felt about one another because he wanted people to express what they really had to say.
“It was a free-flowing meeting where we had a wide diversity of people that don’t often come together in the same room,” Sharpton said. “People actually said ‘Usually I don’t talk to you but I’m here today at this meeting.”
The Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church on the West Side, said many of the leaders were grateful Sharpton convened the group.
“It was very helpful for people to meet and greet each other; to know what each other were working on and exchange ideas,” Hatch said. “So, we came out of the meeting with our own network so now we can continue to work together.”
At the press conference, Hatch said violence in Chicago has subsided because of the nightly news and headlines calling it a “wake up call.”
Sharpton said with the holiday season approaching, he is very concerned of the safety of the citizens.
“We need to raise a level of visibility on the criminals that are combating violence in an effective way,” said Sharpton.
With Friday marking the late President John F. Kennedy assassination, Sharpton said that he will run an hour special on MSNBC to talk about Chicago’s crime rate.
Sharpton said that he plans to hold two town hall meetings: one on the West Side and the other on the South Side.
The dates of the meetings have not been announced, but Sharpton said he plans to have them before the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on Jan. 15.
“I would hope we could have these meetings before Dr. King’s birthday so that we could get ideas on where we need to go with the issue of gun violence,” Sharpton said.
After the meetings, Sharpton and other leaders around Chicago will establish what they call the 10-point plan.
“The 10-point plan is basically when we will try to streamline to see what 10 issues we can work on to make Chicago better,” said Acree.
As the press conference ended, Maureen Forte, president of the Chicago Chapter of the National Action Network, a New York-based nonprofit organization Sharpton founded, summed up the entire day.
“What we did today was fight exclusion with inclusion,” Forte said. “So, now we are working on solutions to end the problem of gun violence.”