We need to demand President Trump’s help in stopping this violence

2016 was a virtual bloodbath in Chicago. When you consider the city’s dismal homicide rate, it is unfathomable that 784 people were killed and that the city was never declared a state of emergency.

In fact, nearly 100 of those homicides came from the Austin community, the neighborhood where I have pastored for over 25 years. While Chicago may be America’s epicenter of violence, Austin is its ground zero.

The homicide problem in Chicago is very complex, and there certainly is not one silver bullet that can be used to magically turn around this unprecedented epidemic.

Many of us who live in these marginalized communities know the violence is intrinsically tied to poverty, poor education, segregation and hopelessness. The devastating social despair is the root cause of the heightened epidemic of violence that our city experienced in 2016 and now 2017.

Hiring more police, stopping the proliferation of guns and stiffer penalties for those illegally carrying guns will never drastically reduce violence in Chicago. That only addresses the symptoms of violence, with minimal impact.

What good is it to pour a cup of water in an ocean, when the the levee is broken?

Our community deserves substantive resolution and transformation. That’s not transformation that’s aggravation. I live and pastor in the most dangerous neighborhood in America, and it’s time that everyone knows that in Chicago the levy is broken, and the ocean is overflowing with the blood of our sons.

While we ask our city, county and state leaders to invest economically in creating jobs and in building the urban infrastructure of Chicago, I also call upon our 45th president, Mr. Donald J Trump, to come to Chicago and come directly to Austin.

Walk with me, other activists and some of the mothers victimized by gun violence in Austin, the ground zero of Chicago’s violence.

I did not vote for this president; in fact, with 60,000 votes from the 7th Congressional District, I was elected as a Hillary R. Clinton delegate. Nevertheless my candidate didn’t win, but in spite of our differences, we are one country.

So I unashamedly call on all the residents of these endangered communities of our city to demand President Trump’s help. Let’s not sugar coat it, these neighborhoods are dangerous. I beg to differ with those local politicians and bureaucrats who get offended when people compare Chicago to Afghanistan and other war zones.

Chicago is a world-class city, but many residents live in terror in what’s a virtual war zone. Public safety actually depends on which neighborhood you live in.

If you live in North Park, you’re safe. But in North Lawndale, you’re not. Lincoln Park is safe, but Garfield Park is dangerous. The residents of Edgewater live in comfort, while those in Englewood are in a crisis.

It would be reckless and irresponsible for community leaders to sit back and do nothing significantly different to address the social despair and expect to avoid an imminent blood bath in the remainder of 2017.

Doing all we can to address this crisis mandates reaching out to leader of the free world for resources and support. Our request is simple: President Trump, our commander in chief and the leader of our nation, please come and help us in Chicago.

— Rev. Ira Acree, senior pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church

Trump must be investigated

Kellyanne Conway was wrong in so many ways. But the buck still stops with the president.

I strongly condemn the on-going string of actions by the Trump administration that demonstrate their inability to separate and disentangle their personal financial interests from the decisions they are taking on public policy.

The fallout from the blatant ethics violation by Kellyanne Conway during an interview on Fox News Thursday has renewed concerns about the real and potential conflicts of interest for President Trump, and many in his cabinet of millionaires and billionaires and his staff.

After Nordstrom announced Wednesday that they were dropping Ivanka Trump’s clothing line due to poor sales, the president tweeted from his personal Twitter account and the official White House account that his daughter “has been treated so unfairly.”

On Thursday, speaking from the White House briefing room, Trump advisor Conway told viewers:

“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would say. This is just wonderful line,” she said. “I own some of it. I fully — I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”

The statement by Conway was so blatantly in violation of federal ethics rules that House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Republican, was moved to join the committee’s ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings in sending a letter to the Office of Government Ethics calling Conway’s remarks “unacceptable.”

They were unacceptable, but what of the president’s tweet?  Even if it was not technically in violation of ethics rules it was at least showing poor judgment and it clearly set the environment for the Conway outburst.

According to news reports, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said Conway had been “counseled on the subject” but did not say whether she would be disciplined.

She should be disciplined. But the real issue is much deeper and broader than these remarks by Ms. Conway.

The intertwining of the personal interests of President Trump, and many of his cabinet and staff, cannot be ignored any longer.

The House committee has refused to examine the potential constitutional conflict between the interests of the president and his lease with the federal government on the Old Post Office building in Washington, redeveloped as the Trump International Hotel, and numerous other issues that continue to surface on almost daily.

It is time for the Oversight Committee to begin an in-depth investigation of these conflicts of interest and to demand an accounting and an unwinding of these financial ties.

— Rep. Danny Davis represents Illinois’ 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House.