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Community groups call for action after CBS 2 investigation into Black women and crime



Editors Note:  An earlier headline contained an inaccurate figure about the number of Black women who are victims of crime every 30 minutes in Chicago. The correct figure is nearly 4 every 30 minutes. This was due to a calculation error. We deeply apologize for the error and the implications this may have had during the time it was published.  

CHICAGO (CBS) — A recent investigation by CBS 2 has revealed a disturbing statistic: Black women make up only 16% of Chicago’s population, yet they accounted for 30% of all crime victims last year. 

This means that every half hour, nearly four Black women were victims of a crime.

This alarming data has spurred a call to action from prominent members of the Black community. Leaders gathered at the North Lawndale Employment Network to discuss the issue and explore solutions.

“It literally rips the very fabric of my heart to think that our people and our women, those who bring life into this world, continue to be victimized and not cared about,” said Dr. Caroyln Vessel, CEO of I AM ABLE Center for Family Development.

A multipronged approach 

Solving the problem will be complex and require a coordinated, multi-faceted strategy, the meeting participants said. That plan includes: 

  • Raising awareness: The Urban League, the largest civil rights organization in the city, is committed to convening key stakeholders, including the mayor, police commissioner, community leaders, and victims. “I think one of our most important responsibilities as the Urban League is to convene people,” said Urban League president Karen Freeman-Wilson. “I’m really committed to that.” 
  • Policy change: Alderman Gilbert Villegas has proposed the creation of a task force specifically focused on crimes against Black women.
  • Community initiatives: Twyler Jenkins, a victim of car theft, has launched a campaign to raise awareness and promote safety through billboards, buttons, and t-shirts.
  • Increased resources: Chasda Martin, Chief Strategy Officer at the Lawndale Employment Network, wants a dedicated budget and resources to address Black female victimization.

“My selfish desire was to make sure Black female victimization is a priority for us as a workforce development agency for the next five years,” Martin said. “I want us to have a very specific strategy for recruiting and engaging Black women.”

“When I think about the role that Black men need to play in our community, it is to protect and support our women,” he said.

The impact beyond statistics

Niya Williams, a victim of a random shooting, recently shared her fear and trauma with CBS 2. She was shot in the face while ordering food from a neighborhood restaurant. Her story resonated with other women, like Jenkins, who recognized the need for collective action.

“I literally could feel and see and hear what she went through in my mind,” said Jenkins, who runs a non-profit health and wellness organization. “And it was gut-wrenching. It was so hard.”

Last January, Jenkins said her car was stolen from in front of her home. Her purse and credit cards were gone, too.

“I was scared, shaking ’cause nothing like that had ever happened to me before,” Jenkins said. 

“My hope is that with sounding the alarm and spreading the word to churches and community organizations, we can talk more about what we can do to protect ourselves.” 

CBS 2 sparks a movement

The city is taking notice and exploring solutions to address the disproportionate victimization of Black women. While the road to change may be long, this initial momentum offers a glimmer of hope for a safer future for Black women in Chicago and beyond.

“I think what you’ll see as a result of the conversations is a call to our local policing police districts to be responsive to adopting black female victimization as part of the city’s public safety strategy,” said Martin. “We want to see explicit language in it and an approach to make sure that women are safeguarded.”

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