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Pritzker, Preckwinkle, faith leaders look ahead to rebuilding
First, it's urgent to end the violent demonstrations that have flared up in the city and in towns statewide, they say.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business
by A.D. Quig

After flareups in Chicago, Naperville, Aurora and other cities throughout Cook County and Illinois, and while National Guard troops remain active, local leaders are already looking to rebuild.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and faith leaders—including Catholic Cardinal Blase Cupich and Apostle Carl White of Victory Christian International Ministries—said it's urgent to end violent demonstrations that have followed protests over the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd and focus on constructive change.

The city can't move toward justice "by destroying our own communities," Preckwinkle said. "Let us heed Dr. King's call to direct action" and protest peacefully, she said.

Cupich called for an end to violence, as well, saying the public should honor Floyd's family's wishes and act peacefully: "Nonviolence has toppled empires and corrected injustice, and it can work again. Remember: Mercy is not weakness. Cruelty is not strength."

Preckwinkle said she was especially dismayed to see destruction in her home neighborhood of Hyde Park, including looted pharmacies. "These are the places our seniors depend on for our meds." Given the higher risk of death of COVID-19 for those with underlying health conditions like heart disease or diabetes, the looting was even more troubling, she said.

"I do not pretend to know the pain that's experienced by black America, the pain of knowing that what happened to George Floyd could happen to you or your child," Pritzker said. "The path ahead will not be easy. It never is, because longstanding systems don't shift on their own, but this is necessary work."

That means "protest paired with policy," he said, including "police reform with genuine investigations, transparency and accountability. That means taking the justice in criminal justice and making it mean something. That means sustained economic investment in black and brown communities across our state. . . .It will take activism plus action."

Any criminal reform agenda should be led by those on the front lines of this weekend's peaceful protests, Pritzker said.

The National Guard remains active throughout the state. Yesterday Pritzker ordered an additional 250 National Guard troops to aid local police and lent an additional 300 state police to municipalities across the state. Earlier today, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she did not want National Guard troops patrolling city streets, because they did not have the same de-escalation training as Chicago police.

Pritzker agreed there. "They're a highly trained force, but remember what they're trained for: They're trained to go to war," the governor said, adding they are some of the "best people you can have" backing up law enforcement.

"Look, we reacted to the request by Chicago P.D. and some other places around the state to provide backup, to provide support," Pritzker said, and they have a "limited mission" based on what municipalities request. "Chicago P.D. is doing a good job. I realize there have been challenges over the last number of nights. I think there's been learning that's taken place." They're not ill-trained, just not meant to be on the front lines, Pritzker said.

Going forward, long-term investment in Illinois' communities of color will be that much more difficult because of the state's budget. While "hundreds of millions" in the most recent budget will help small businesses across the state, Pritzker renewed calls for federal money to help prop up the state's budget and for private donors to continue to dig deep. S&P slammed the budget today for being "precariously balanced" but maintained the state's rating.

"We have lost revenues in our state and we need to rebuild those coffers in order for us to deliver the services on the ground that people need, the supports that small businesses need," Pritzker said. "Look, the last five days have at least demonstrated to everybody who wasn't paying attention already that we have systemic racism that also needs to be addressed in a state budget," which he described as a "moral document."

Both he and Preckwinkle spoke about the "heartbreaking" damage to small businesses. "Their windows are broken, their inventory is gone, in some cases, some of those small businesses may not come back," the governor said. "Now we have to make double the effort," including using private and public dollars.



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