Progressive Illinois congressional candidates Robert Eammons and Marie Newman discuss racism and gun violence in the first and third districts

(Left to right) Robert Emmons Jr., Marie Newman and JoAnn Persch along with other speakers share the stage to talk about racism in Chicago. Emmons and Newman are both congressional candidates for the first and third districts respectively.

(Left to right) Robert Emmons Jr., Marie Newman and JoAnn Persch along with other speakers share the stage to talk about racism in Chicago. Emmons and Newman are both congressional candidates for the first and third districts respectively.

 

CHICAGO - Dozens gathered in the Beverly Arts Center on Oct. 26 for a panel discussion called “Dismantling Hate,” moderated by progressive Democrats running in Illinois’ upcoming congressional elections, Robert Eammons and Marie Newman.

Hosted by Eammons from Illinois’ 1st District and Newman from Illinois’ 3rd District, the event included faith-based panelists from Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities from different ethnic and racial backgrounds. The prevailing theme discussed during the forum was divisiveness on the South Side and its neighboring suburbs and how to combat related issues in the first and third districts. Many of the topics discussed referenced President Donald Trump’s marginalizing policies and how to navigate their collateral outcomes in the future.

A crowd of of mostly middle aged people filled the empty seats of the Simmerling Gallery and listen to the panelist discuss the issues affecting their communities.

A crowd of of mostly middle aged people filled the empty seats of the Simmerling Gallery and listen to the panelist discuss the issues affecting their communities.

During the forum, Newman said persisting racism in Illinois’s third district affects everything from daily life to political representation. Arthur J. Jones, a notorious holocaust denier and self proclaimed leader of the American Nazi Party received 25.9 percent of the vote as the Republican candidate for the third district in 2018.

“It’s hard to talk about race,” Newman said. “We need to make this an item that is talked about throughout the district.”

One way Newman said she would begin tackling the racism present in her district is by addressing systemic disparities in the public school system. She said all schools, not just schools in wealthier and whiter neighborhoods, need psychologists, social workers and nurses.

Gun violence in the first and third districts was another issue brought up during the discussion. Lamar Johnson, panelist and youth pastor at the New Eclipse Church, said “this week alone 53 people were shot in Chicago and the majority of that was in the south and west sides.”

Eammons mentioned addressing gun violence in the first district is his campaign’s primary concern. His website provides voters with a comprehensive list of ways to end gun violence like investing in mental health institutions and funding violence intervention programs locally and nationwide.

Tim Looney, member of the Southwest Chicago Diversity Collaborative, an organization that advocates for racial, educational and economic justice, said Eammons’ grassroots approach to enacting change in the first district is one of the reasons why he’s excited to vote for him in the upcoming election. He said Eammons’ perspective on addressing gun violence, for example, “isn’t about increasing police budgets, it’s about increasing support in communities.”

Erick Gonzalez, a voter in the third district, said he is equally excited to vote for Newman. He pointed toward Newman’s pro-choice politics as to why he’s voting for her. He also said her progressive stance on divisive issues in comparison to incumbent Rep. Dan Lapinski’s inspired him to get politically involved with her campaign.

Newman ended the discussion by affirming her dedication to combating white supremacy. She encouraged her audience to have difficult discussions with friends and family in order to actively address the racism present in her district. “We’re all going to say things that are wrong, we don’t have an excuse anymore.”