Austin talks | “A budget is a moral document:” Religious leaders discuss city budget and economic justice

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Religious and community leaders discussed concerns about the 2022 city budget earlier this week ahead of the next scheduled public hearing Thursday at noon in the Chicago City Council Chamber at City Hall.

At the Leaders Network’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, Reverend Janette Wilson and Pastor Otis Moss III touched on a number of topics, including gentrification and policing, and discussed their hope for next year’s budget. focuses on prevention and access to health, among other areas.

“The police are not designed to prevent violence; they are usually the first responders after the violence has occurred, ”said Moss, of the Trinity United Church of Christ.

He spoke passionately about his desire to see more of the city’s budget, of which $ 1.9 billion is earmarked for the Chicago Police Department for violence prevention and mental health services.

“We should look at our neighborhoods through the lens of public health, not through the lens of incarceration and violence. Public health is about the number of households that thrive. It’s moral language, ”Moss said. “Cook County Jail is the largest provider of mental health care in the United States – it’s a moral question. “

The prison is one of the largest psychiatric establishments in the country, according to national public radio. “More Americans receive mental health care in prisons and prisons than in hospitals or treatment centers,” NPR reported.

Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx attended Tuesday’s virtual meeting and briefly commented on the deadly shooting that took place in Austin earlier this month. The incident attracted a lot of attention after Mayor Lori Lightfoot publicly criticized the Foxx office’s decision not to press charges against two suspects who were arrested in connection with the shooting, which left one dead and d ‘others injured.

Foxx told religious leaders she had no problem with the mayor and expressed her desire for the matter to be resolved. She also reiterated what her office communicated in previously released statements – that there was not enough evidence in the prosecution files.

“I don’t want people in our communities to believe that if I had the evidence, I wouldn’t charge in the blink of an eye. It’s a problem of lack of evidence right now, ”Foxx said.

“The safety of our communities is important. It’s at the forefront of what I do. I want us to be safe, but I want us to do it right.

Religious leaders have expressed support for Foxx, saying they don’t like the narrative that the solution to reducing crime or violence violates people’s rights.

“We have arrived at the era of [mass] incarceration because of state prosecutors in the past locking up everyone, including innocent people, ”said Leaders Network chairman David Cherry.

Cherry said it takes courage not to rack up conviction after conviction just to win the favor of voters.

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