Friday, May 21, 2010


Representative La Shawn K. Ford (D-8) convened a spirited and often heated Town Meeting at Ronald McNair Academic Center in Austin May 10. The main topic of discussion was Rep. Ford’s proposal to deploy Illinois National Guard troops in Chicago neighborhoods hardest hit by the recent eruptions of violence and murders.
Despite Rep. Ford’s explanations that he was not necessarily suggesting that armed soldiers patrol the streets, the packed gymnasium was vocally opposed to the idea. Ford reminded participants that National Guard troops regularly assist with recovery operations at natural disasters, such as floods, and tornados and no one objects. He referred to Mayor Daley’s contention that the City’s budget problem is making it impossible to hire sufficient police to protect communities most at risk. “Perhaps guardsmen could work in police stations, freeing up officers to work the streets,” Ford suggested. “Or, maybe they could provide helicopter surveillance for police. I have never said army troops should patrol Chicago streets. It is just a suggestion to be considered, with the details to be worked out between the governor, the mayor, the police superintendent, and National Guard commander. I think we should discuss all options.”
Ford said something new must be done in view of the fact that Chicago’s 2010 murder rate already equals the number of combat troops killed this year in Afghanistan, an actual war situation.
Town Meeting participants turned their attention to the issues of ensuring that the state budget not be allowed to cut vital educational services for students in Chicago Public Schools, and how to create jobs to put people to work during the economic recession. Questions were raised about how the $6 million dollars left over from the failed Olympic bid will be put to use. Several people proposed that it be used to save threatened school programs.

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