FSM News South's crew members speak out at gun violence prevention press conference and roundtable with Senator Duckworth and Congressman Rush

 

By FSM Communications

On August 7, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-IL-01), hosted a press conference and roundtable discussion on gun violence prevention at Gary Comer Youth Center, where our FSM News South programming is hosted. During the press conference, Duckworth and Rush called for the passage of the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2018.

 Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-IL-01)

Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-IL-01)

 Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)

 Jamiya Smith speaking about Jessica Finnister at the start of the press conference

Jamiya Smith speaking about Jessica Finnister at the start of the press conference

Gun violence has been a significant topic of conversation in Chicago, but this time the complex issue hit particularly close to home as an FSM News South alumni, Jessica Finnister, was recently shot and passed away (donations for her family can be made through the GoFundMe page). The press conference opened with remarks from Jessica's friend and FSM News South Program Assistant, Jamiya Smith, and closed with an FSM News South produced video tribute honoring loved ones lost to gun violence. 

FSM News South video tribute to victims of gun violence

The roundtable discussion that followed brought together youth and young adults from Chicago, community leaders and organizers to voice their concerns. The dialogue largely focused on economic injustice as one of the central factors for gun violence issues that our communities face. Duckworth recognized that along with jobs, opportunities and resources, there is a need for providing better treatment in communities that need trauma care. 

Community leaders highlighted the work that organizations such as Gary Comer Youth Center, Do the Write Thing, KLEO Community Life Center, Free Spirit Media, and many others are already doing to bring opportunity and economic justice to their communities, without waiting for government devised solutions. In example, Free Spirit Media has a holistic approach that not only focuses on establishing media skills, but also creating pathways for young artists to break into the media industry and support themselves financially, regardless of what that path looks like for them through creative workforce development.

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Another substantial aspect of the interchange revolved around whose responsibility it is to lead the change. Lesle Honore, Executive Director of KLEO Community Family Life Center, pointed out that, "Too often the pressure of the solution is on the oppressed," stating that it's not fair to make Chicago's youth the sole spokespeople representing the issue of gun violence, and that "it's not on them to carry all that weight."

 Lesle Honore, Executive Director of KLEO Community Family Life Center

Lesle Honore, Executive Director of KLEO Community Family Life Center

Hannah McEwen, FSM News South Program Assistant, also responded with her fear that "Countless politicians will use Jessica's name. They will use Chicago as an example and yet have no idea what our experiences are." 

 Hannah McEwen, FSM News South Program Assistant

Hannah McEwen, FSM News South Program Assistant

The roundtable closed with a letter from FSM News South crew member, Ivory Connor, who recently lost her uncle to gun violence. 

Because my uncle doesn’t have a voice anymore, I am his voice. That’s why I stand before you today asking for stricter gun laws, so no family will have to endure what my family is enduring today.
— Ivory Connor, FSM News South
 Ivory Connor reading her letter

Ivory Connor reading her letter

 " Gun violence shouldn't be happening. I should be worried about my future instead ." - Sanaa Fedrick, Do The Write Thing Challenge

"Gun violence shouldn't be happening. I should be worried about my future instead." - Sanaa Fedrick, Do The Write Thing Challenge

Photography by Caroline Olsen.