The Rev. Al Sharpton held a town hall meeting in Chicago’s Hyde Park Thursday to address gun violence, but the discussion quickly turned to linking the problem to the city’s unemployment.
“I have heard that some black folks think I am here to take over,” Sharpton said, according to DNAinfo. “But I say to them, ‘How can I take over when black folks don’t control anything for me to take over?’ I am here to help and bring attention to a matter that is destroying communities across the country, including in New York.”
Sharpton may have expected a discussion on more gun control laws, but instead many in the audience of about 300 said they needed jobs and a solution to the foreclosure problem plaguing the city.
“When you give a person a job, you give them a purpose to stay out of trouble and a goal to work toward,” panelist Diane Latiker — founder and executive director of Kids Off the Block, a nonprofit youth-development group on the South Side — said, according to DNAinfo. “Our young people need this, especially during these hard times. If you wake up in the morning with nothing to do, you will go out and find something to occupy your time, and usually, for youths, it’s violence.”
Several attendees and panelists said it was time for the black community to vote out incumbents, and one 82-year-old preacher called for tea party-type meetings, according to Breitbart News.
“The manner in which we have been voting needs to change,” Wendy Pearson, an activist against Chicago school closings, told the audience. “I’m here to say to you that we have been trained to vote in a specific manner… We need to start looking at the manner in which our elected officials have been voting… If they have not voted in a manner that is beneficial to you, yours, and your community, then you need to start voting them out.”
Voices of the Ex-Offender’s Paul McKinley, once a SecondCongressional District GOP nominee to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr. told Breitbart News that the gathering was a historic event.
“Stop blaming just anybody for the violence in the city of Chicago,” McKinley told the audience. “Blame the right people, not just white people, but the right people. Because it’s not just white folks a part of this, but it is on the fifth floor. The fifth floor took your schools, the fifth floor just took your jobs that he said that he gave to the ex-offender,… and every single alderman was a part of this criminal process.”
Watch the video provided via Breitbart: