So, I will make this offer: I will reserve as many blog posts as necessary for any and all Illinois Legislative Black Caucus members who have a plan. The posts will be unfiltered and unedited. They’re all yours, and you’ll have my audience’s full attention. The idea will be to construct a dialogue about how this state moves forward.
Illinois has a real opportunity to be the first state to step up to solve this seemingly intractable problem.
I want to help make this happen and I am all ears.
I am still planning to shut down the blog the rest of this week. But I will post these proposals as soon as I can get to them.
* From Rep. Chris Welch…
First I would like to thank you for your thoughtful column today. You asked for policy recommendations from the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to meet this moment of pain and heartbreak. I don’t purport to speak for the caucus. I speak as a black legislator who led on equity measures like representation of black people on corporate boards and payment for black student athletes in the NCAA. I speak as a black father who had difficult conversations with my young son and daughter on what is happening.
But since you kindly committed to print words from black caucus members, here are my thoughts:
George Floyd was murdered by policemen in broad daylight as onlookers pleaded for humanity. Only one of the four policemen involved has been charged. And now our country is in flames and our City of Chicago is in flames. Of course I don’t think it’s right to burn cop cars, bust out windows, break into stores, hurt innocent police officers and reporters who are just doing their jobs. Some of the violence and destruction is coming from provocateurs and opportunists, and some of it is a violent expression of rage and hurt at the lack of justice and equality in our Country. Have you read the names of all of the black men and women killed by the police in the past 10 years, often on film? Did you watch the videos of the shooting of Laquan MacDonald and the killing of George Floyd? How would anyone expect a black person to feel about that?
The police violence, the disproportionate numbers of African Americans dying of the COVID 19, and the economic devastation in Black communities during this economic crisis are a poisonous stew. Can we finally address some of the underlying issues? Is this the moment?
In Illinois we have good, decent political leaders who deeply want to address underlying issues. Let us begin with police reform, economic redevelopment, healthcare, and education.
1. Statewide system where bad police officers can be held accountable for the deaths of unarmed black men and women.
2. Create a pipeline to advance black students at community colleges, State colleges and private Universities. We have some of the nation’s top institutions of higher education but the representation of black students is pathetic.
3. Rebuilding Illinois and Capital funds must include African Americans in these well paying infrastructure projects.
4. Healthcare equity so hospitals like Westlake serving poor black people are not first on the chopping block.
5. Release 80% of the hundreds of millions of contact tracing dollars to black nonprofits not universities. Take this moment to strengthen the infrastructure of our black communities to stop black deaths, contain the spread of the virus and create jobs.
6. Business relief and equity for black businesses by releasing the nearly 400M small business grants and technical assistance funds to save black businesses. Absent immediate and targeted intervention, what happened this weekend will be a final nail in their coffin,
7. Provide real and immediate economic relief to people who are unemployed and can’t get through the flooded IDES system. Our community needs immediate stimulus checks so that people can feed and clothe their families; and
8. Provide mortgage and rental assistance immediately to stop foreclosures and evictions in our communities.
We also need the people protesting in this country to go to mycensus2020.gov and fill out the census. Finally, people protesting need to vote in the upcoming Presidential Election, vote in the upcoming local elections for Mayors who appoint police boards and police chiefs, and run for office yourselves.
I am heartbroken by black bodies piling up and black businesses burning. But the question for all of us is this finally the time to address underlying causes?
State Representative, 7th District