The city of Chicago has captured the national spotlight for its murder rate and frequency. The consistent headlines of youth caught in crossfire prompted a local morning talk show to create a forum highlighting the issue.
Violence – causes and possible solutions – will be the topic of a special two-day “Windy City Live” show later this week, according to show co-host Val Warner.
She told the Defender that the talk show, which took over the 9 a.m. slot when the “Oprah Winfrey Show” ended in 2011 and airs daily on ABC Channel 7, could not ignore the city’s rampant crime.
Of the more than 500 homicides recorded in 2012, over 100 of them were youth under the age of 25. In the first 31 days of 2013 there were over 40 murders, according to police.
“With so much news about the violence that is happening in our city we can’t ignore the fact that that’s part of what’s happening in Chicago,” said Warner. “We thought … why not take our platform and our stage and do something with it to try to shine a light on it and maybe bring some solutions.”
Mothers of slain youth, including Annette Nance-Holt whose son, Blair, was gunned down in 2007 on a Chicago Transit Authority bus while commuting home from school and Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton whose daughter, Hadiya Pendleton, was shot at a city park while hanging out with friends after taking final exams, are expected to be a part of the audience and the discussion.
The first day will touch on the problems. The next day will focus on “solutions and people who are making a difference,” said Warner.
Rev. Michael Pfleger, the outspoken pastor of St. Sabina Catholic church in the Auburn-Gresham community, and New Beginnings Church’s Rev. Corey Brooks, who embarked on a cross-country fundraiser and awareness campaign last year to draw attention to violence in Chicago communities, are among the special show’s invited faith leaders. Warner said faith leaders will talk about what the Church can do to aid in curtailing violence.
Pfleger annually takes part in a Mother’s Day demonstration outside his church where mothers of slain youth gather to remember their children and call for an end to gun violence. Last summer he assembled gang members from different organizations and communities together for a peace basketball tournament he called the first of its kind.
“Right now, we have a genocide going on in our community,” Pfleger has said.
At least four youth will tell their story on the show of how violence has personally effected them, according to Warner – who co-hosts “Windy City Live” with Ryan Chiaverini.
“You’re going to be surprised at some of the things these kids have seen, some of the things they are saying about what they expect from the mayor, expect from the police chief and you’re going to be encouraged to see that (the youth) haven’t lost their hope,” said Warner.
The audience will include people who’ve lost someone close to them to violence. Warner said other ABC7 Chicago personalities will also be part of the show, including sportscaster Jim Rose who is expected to talk about the impact the Boys & Girls Clubs had on him, and Cheryl Burton, a Chicago native and Lindblom high school alum.
Both shows will be taped Wednesday. One will air Thursday and the other on Friday.
“What we hope to accomplish? We want (the violence) it to end. We want it to stop. We want to hold people accountable,” said Warner. “We don’t want anybody to get the impression that we at “Windy City Live” are satisfied with this or numb to this. It bothers us. … We don’t like it.”