Religious leaders, elected officials and community activists at a Dec. 27 vigil in West Garfield Park for Bettie Jones, 55, who was killed last Saturday after opening her door for Chicago police officers. | Photo submitted by Rev. Walter Jones.

As people of faith, united behind one of our very own community stakeholders, Rev. Dr. Marshall E. Hatch, the West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders are demanding transparency, accountability and justice in the senseless shooting deaths of Ms. Bettie Jones and Mr. Quintonio LeGrier — both West Side residents — by the Chicago Police Department.

At a time when we should be in the holiday spirit and enjoying quality time with family, we are questioning the judgement of an officer who shot and killed one of a woman, a mother and a promising young man and college student over the alleged handling of a baseball bat.  

The West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders, as a group of concerned residents and community activists/organizers for social change and community empowerment, are again in a state of trauma after the recent shooting of an unarmed, good neighbor and God-fearing woman, who simply was opening her door for law enforcement — who are supposed to serve and protect.

This ordeal is truly disturbing to people of faith who value our quality of life, but we are praying and trusting that justice will prevail in this matter. Until then, we are hurting and in search of answers into why we are continuously the victims of this type of senseless violence.

As African Americans in search of righteousness, we are in desperate need of clinical intervention services and crisis teams that are culturally sensitive and accountable to the state of mind of African Americans. These actions we are experiencing are not, and should not, be normal for my children and for other young people I mentor.

Our community is quickly becoming desensitized to the plight of our people — whether in the form of black-on-black crimes or accidental/intentional police shootings by those who are paid to serve and protect.

Where are the social workers? Where are the clinicians? Where are the mental health professionals? Where are the local medical facilities and personnel? Where are they now? This recent shooting is typical of what happens when access to care and intervention is missing.

The West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders make the following recommendations, which are just a few ideas for moving forward in addressing the plight of African Americans on the West Side of Chicago:

  • Create a culturally sensitive professional crisis intervention team among the city’s first responders
  • Open up access to affordable, culturally competent and diverse health care for individuals between the ages of 13 and 30
  • Open up dialogue and training on mental health and its accompanying stigmas in the African American community
  • Treat substance abuse as a mental and public health issue that warrants immediate intervention and professional health care

For additional information, please feel free to contact Rev. Walter Amir Jones, Jr., Director of the West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders, at (773) 550-3556, or email