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THE WORD | PBS Arthur’s MR.Ratburn Gay Marriage Reactions

Monday, May 13 the animated children’s series Arthur entered its 22nd season on PBS Kids. The new season kicked off with a bang! In the episode titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” we learn that Arthur’s teacher — the popular and well educated Mr. Ratburn — is gay.

Throughout the episode Arthur, Buster and their friends attempt to break up his engagement after seeing Mr. Ratburn with a rather “pushy” woman who throughout the episode tells him to “toughen up”. Convinced, that marrying her would make both his life and theirs miserable the kids decide to take action without knowing the woman in question is his sister and not the bride to be. Upon the wedding, the kids are shocked to see him walk the aisle with someone else, yet relieved by how happy the couple appears. The kids decide to abort their plans to soil the wedding, and focus their attention on a bigger problem amongst the couple... the way they dance.

While this episode has been well received by the public, many are simply shocked that the series reached 22 seasons, it does leave some asking is the media pushing the LGBTQ agenda onto kids at too young of an age? Several shows on children’s networks like Disney and Nickelodeon have transitioned into the practice of creating and displaying characters who relate to and are members of the LGBTQ community. While many agree that education on the topic is important and the community presence and identity is needed, the culture asks, is it becoming too much for the children?

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Women's Marches Break Out Across Every State and Continent

Women's March reached Paradise Bay, Antarctica

Photo: Linda Zunas/The Hill

In Chicago alone, 250,000 people came out for the rally in Grant Park Saturday morning. The event drew so many people, the actual march part was cancelled and the rally continued as usual. Chicago had the largest turnout behind the original location in Washington D.C. Organizers of the March in the city, said the march was cancelled because of the crowd and there was no safe way to march. Initial estimates thought roughly 22,000 people would show.

The March took place on the first full day after the Inauguration to send a message to the new administration coming in that women's rights are human rights. People came out in droves across the country in every state to demonstrate. A group of women marched on board a ship off the coast of Antarctica at Paradise Bay. 

Speakers for Chicago's event included Hamiliton cast members, Ari Afsar, Karen Olivo and Samantha Marie Ware. Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, mother of Hadiya Pendleton, also served as a guest speaker this morning.

Read next: Female Organization Demands Trump Exit The Race

 

 

During Final Hours, Pres. Obama Frees 300 More Inmates, The Most In A Single Day

In his last act, Pres. Obama, shortened more sentences in a single day in U.S. history

In his last act, Pres. Obama, shortened more sentences in a single day in U.S. history

On his last day in office, President Obama granted 330 commutations. This will allow many drug offenders a lesser sentence. During the last eight years, Obama shortened 1,715 sentences, including 568 of whom were sentenced to life.

Read Obama's Tweet About Thursdays Move 

In a letter to the recipients the outgoing President said he believed they had the opportunity right now to do what is right. 

"I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around. Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity. It will not be easy and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change... remember that you have the capacity to make good decisions."

Watch: What's The Word at Obama's Farewell Speech in Chicago

According to officials at the White House, this was the most commutations done in a single day by a sitting President. White House counsel Neil Eggleston said this comes as Obama worked on lessening harsh sentences.

"The vast majority of these men and women are serving unduly long sentences for drug crimes... He has a strong view that people deserve a second chance." For an inmate to be considered under Obama, they needed to demonstrate good behavior, already served 10 years, have a nonviolent offense. However, some exceptions were made for the 10-year-rule and there were some firearm violations in relation to the drug crimes.

President Obama made history when his was the first sitting President to visit a Federal Prison

President Obama made history when his was the first sitting President to visit a Federal Prison

During his final press conference Wednesday afternoon, Obama discussed the role of voting  and how the United States should make it easier to vote. He blames the Jim Crow era, saying the reason for the low turnout is because many Americans are eligible to vote who don't go to the polls. "It became sort of acceptable to restrict the franchise... The idea that we put in place a whole bunch of barriers to people voting doesn't make sense."

You can read his entire last speech here.

President-Elect Donald Trump will be inaugurated at noon on Friday, January 20th. Close to 60 Democrats will be boycotting the event for Trump's word to Civil Rights Icon and Representative John Lewis. 

Trump has been having close door meetings with a number of people ahead of his inauguration including Steve Harvey and Martin Luther King III. 

What do you take away from Obama's final gesture in office? Comment below and tell us.

Lupe Fiasco is fighting for social injustices in Chicago deprived areas

Photo Cred: Ben Bitton

Photo Cred: Ben Bitton

Saturday marked the first annual celebrity bowling tournament that brought out celebrities to raise awareness the limited access to healthy and nutritious foods, music and art instruction as well as various community based programs that fill the void that many low income residents in Chicago have been deprived of.

The M.U.R.A.L (Magnifying Urban Realities & Affecting Lives) project is a grassroots organization that was founded in 2009, by Lupe Fiasco and his sister Ayesha Jaco who saw firsthand how families living in areas of Chicago that were deprived of necessities that wealthier communities had access to. What started as an annual coat and food drive aimed at areas such as West Garfield and Englewood grew into music education, cultural exchange programs and food drives.

 

The united states has faced massive budget cutsfor art and music instruction in public school settings and Ayesha Jaco, executive director and Lupe’s sister says her brother realized the need to offer inner city youth of chicago the resources they need in order to be successful, “quote from video”

Since 2010, the organization has provided over 4000 inner-city residents access to healthy foods with pop-up community meals and various other free community based cooking classes to teach residents healthier ways to prepare meals.

Celebrities such as Marina Squarecheck star of Chicago PD was in attendance and said she supports the cause because it is a definite need for kids to have access to resources that will help them reach their potential

Our @andrereports hanging out with @marinasqu AKA Kim burgess from #ChicagoPD at #lupefiasco charity fundraiser

A photo posted by Whats The Word Media, Inc. (@whatsthewordtv) on

 

In addition, the organization has also gone on to implement a cultural exchange program in which high school students will study abroad to gain an understanding of other cultures to engage in dialogue differences with youth from around the world.  Music and Art is personal to Lupe seeing as though many Public Schools do not offer programs tailored to offering students with the opportunity to realize their potential which is why the Foundation created a teacher certified program to incorporate elements of music into education standards.

To find more about the organization and how you can get involved visit www.lupefiascofoundation.org/

Mississippi Church Burned and Tagged with "Vote Trump"

“Vote Trump” is painted on the side of the fire-damaged Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville, Miss. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

“Vote Trump” is painted on the side of the fire-damaged Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville, Miss. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

The residents of an 111 year old An African-American church in Greenville, Mississippi, woke up this morning in shock to find it was burned and vandalized late Tuesday evening.

According to reports officials responded to a fire ablaze at the Hopewell Baptist Church around 9:15pm and when officials arrived they determined it was an act of hate.

At a press conference this morning, Greenville Fire Chief Ruben Brown says officials arrived on scene to find no one in the church at the time and that the main sanctuary was was were majority of the damage occurred. He also stated the words “Vote Trump” were spray painted on the right side of the church.  

The FBI was called in also to investigate the incident according to crime and breaking news reporter Therese Apel:

Officials stated in a press conference this morning that the matter is being investigated as a hate crime.

The pastor of the church stated, “Our church was a historic church. It had been there for over 111 years and our hearts are broken. But we are not angry, but hearts are broken.”

Video Released in Terence Crutcher’s Killing by Tulsa Police

The Police Department in Tulsa, Okla., released video on Monday of an encounter during which, the authorities said, a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man who could be seen raising his hands above his head.

During the encounter, which took place around 7:40 p.m. Friday, Terence Crutcher, 40, was shot once and killed by Betty Shelby, a Tulsa police officer since 2011, after the police received reports of an abandoned vehicle blocking a road, the department said.

Another Shooting in Chicago and How Social Media Can Help

Social Media has its positives and negatives. In this case, it provided police an opportunity to log what was happening and who saw it.

One of the top local media outlets, Facebook, specifically prohibits videos and pictures that convey acts of violence. In this case, however, Facebook has kept the live video streaming of shooting up to spread awareness.

28-year old Antonio Perkins was walking down the street at 8:45 with a friend, and was recording it live on the new streaming feature that Facebook offers. The gun shot rang in the video, and witnesses yelled for help. 

He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at 9:07 PM that night.

According to Inside Edition, investigators suspect it was a gang-related shooting since a source released to the press that Perkins was in fact gang affiliated. However, the source also discloses that Perkins was trying to be a better man and wanted to leave that lifestyle in the past.

While it is unfortunate for another life to have been lost to gun violence, social media can help not only bring awareness to the gun violence and gang-related violence. 

This live footage has become an essential piece to the investigation. Not only has it become essential for law enforcement, it can and will be extra fuel for activists, Chicago politicians, and other advocates for change to show why we need to come together as a community to combat the uprising violence. 

What we can do as a society is to not wait for others to preach to us about what we see and hear about everyday. Instead, we need to promote anti-gun violence on social media, educate one another on how to stay safe, and come together to commemorate innocent lives lost and prevent new ones.

Sources: CNN.com,  itv.comInside Edition

WIU Cuts Four degree programs

Four degree programs at Western Illinois University were eliminated last week during a board of trustees meeting in the Quad Cities.
The board of trustees voted to cut African-American studies, philosophy, religious studies and women's studies. Students already in the programs would be able to complete their degrees

WIU officials blame poor enrollment and low graduation rates and say the lack of a state budget didn't directly lead them to the decision.

Also during the meeting, the board approved a contract for President Jack Thomas. WIU says Thomas requested the board defer a raise for him because of the state budget crisis. The board defered his raise; Thomas's salary is currently $270,528.

 

Source: WGEM

Disney Allegator Attack: Toddler Body Recovered

Rescue teams had been frantically searching for the 2-year-old Nebraska boy, who was dragged by an alligator into a lake at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Bay Lake, FL, on Tuesday evening.Unfortunately, the boy’s body has been found.

According to authorities,the boy’s family was at a movie night, outdoors, when around 9 p.m., he waded into a foot of water in a lagoon, as reported by CNN.

When the alligator clenched its jaws around the boy, his parents desperately tried to save him. His father jumped in and tried to pry the alligator’s mouth open, but it was too late. The gator dragged the boy under the water, of the Seven Seas Lagoon, witnesses told authorities.

Witnesses also told the police that the boy’s sister was in a playpen, about 30 yards from the water, while he was wading in the water, according to Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.

The search for the boy began immediately, after the Reedy Creek emergency services received a report at 9:16 p.m., according to CNN.

Initially, rescue officials were hopeful. However, after nearly 15 hours of searching for the toddler, Demingshad expressed that it’s not likely that they’ll recover a live body. Unfortunately, the ‘man-made body of water has certain systems’ that has made it very difficult to find the child’s body, he said.

Under these tragic circumstances, Disney employees have been trying to keep the boy’s family as comfortable as possible. Disney executives and Gov. Rick Scott have also shown their concern for this devastating event.

According to Demings, many people have criticized the boy’s parents. Declan Salcido, who was vacationing at the resort, said that the “No Swimming” signs are visible ‘from any vantage point’ (CNN). However, quickly, others jumped to their rescue, stating that the sign is not adequate enough, when considering the presence of gators.

The body of the boy, whose name has been revealed as Lane Graves, was found intact at about 1:45 p.m. ET, not far from where he was grabbed, said Demings, as reported by CNN.

An autopsy has yet to confirm what the actual cause of his death was, but Demings strongly believes that he was drowned by the alligator.

Orlando Massacre: killing spree that took 50 innocent lives

Yesterday June 12th, a tragedy plagued the nation at an Orlando gay nightclub. The suspect shot numerous people leaving almost 50 people dead and wounded about 53 other innocent people. News outlets are calling this the “worst mass shooting in US history”.

    Earlier this morning, According to CNN and NBC News, law enforcement have confirmed that 29-year old Omar Mateen, the suspect, pledged to ISIS during the negotiation.

    This Orlando Massacre has shaken the nation in a tremendous way. Countless numbers of celebrities have commented and sent their condolences to the families and friends of the victims who have been involved. Twitter users across the globe have partaken in the #OrlandoUnited to not only bring awareness to the severity of the situation but to show unity against gun violence.

   Earlier today, the gunmans father, Seddique Mir Mateen, posted a video on Facebook acknowledging the severe acts of violence that his son committed. Mr. Mateen expressed his despair about his son’s decision to carry out such a devious ordeal in a Facebook video. Later this afternoon, NBS News interviewed Mr. Mateen in which he states, “I am as shocked as you are, I do not approve this… I wish I had known he had purchased those weapons. If I did, this would not have happened.”

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed on social media that this Afghani, politically-active man proudly supports the Taliban and openly rejected homosexuality. He wrote on Facebook prior to the shootings, “ The punishment for homosexuality is upon God and he will decide on them not humans.” He later confirms that “this has nothing to do religion”, but it is ironic that both of them openly express their hatred of homosexuals.

    Many with direct connection to victims of the shooting have been and will be emotionally damaged. According to news.com.au, one of the victims sheds tears for his boyfriend who was shot in the back in an attempt to protect his boyfriend from the shooters rapid gun blaze.

    Another victim went out that night to enjoy his Saturday night, and his mother made his some dip because she wanted to ensure that he would be fed after he came home from an exhausting, fun-filled night; unfortunately, Stanley Almodovar never came home.

People like Edward Sotomayor Jr. and Stanley Almodovar Jr. among many other victims were considered to be uplifting spirits and sweet souls, and unfortunately, people won’t get a chance to experience the glow that many of them provided.  Members of the LGBTQ community have paid tribute on social media and will do so tonight at the candle light vigils in numerous cities across America.

There have even been long lines of people willing to donate blood in a motion to honor the blood shed during this outrageous massacre and by gun violence and to honor LGBT month as a whole.

Stay tuned for local updates on where the vigils will be near you. Pray for the families and friends of these victims, and raise up against the prevailing gun violence that have been taking young lives far too soon.

Chicago's LGBT Community Stands With Pulse Shooting Victims

Chicago’s LGBT community offered its deepest condolences to the families of the victims, in regards to what America calls “the deadliest mass shooting in US history.” A gunman opened fire at Pulse Orlando, a popular gay dance club, early Sunday morning, police said. Amongst the victims were 50 people killed and 53 wounded.

Equality Illinois, an organization geared towards fighting for the basic civil rights of Illinois citizens, who identify themselves as members of the LGBT community, were one of organizations to speak on the devastating event. “We mourn the victims of the shooting in the Orlando nightclub Pulse…Our hearts go out to the Orlando LGBT community and the family and friends of the victims”, said Equality Illinois.

Among those who were concerned for the victims, were bars and clubs in Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood. Sidetrack The Video Bar wrote, “Our thoughts are with those suffering from the senseless act of terror in Orlando…”  (NBC News).

Hydrate Nightclub Chicago posted to Facebook, saying, “We stand united with our GLBT community throughout this horrible tragedy” (NBC News).

Even Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressed his displeasure, stating, “This horrendous violence will only deepen our resolve to continue building a society that values everybody, regardless of who they love…” (NBC News).

Police have yet to release the identities of the victims, as officials are trying to notify kin of the relatives. A hotline has been set up for the families of the victims: 407-246-4357

Police arrest 20-year-old man headed to LA Pride

20-year-old James Wesley Howell was arrested in California on Sunday while headed to the LA Pride Festival. Allegedly, he had with him an arsenal of weapons. Officers arrested Howell at about 5 PM PT after getting a call about a prowler. Howell told police that he was looking for a friend to attend to attend the LA Pride festival in West Hollywood.

    He was found sitting in a car registered in Indiana and a search revealed three assault rifles, high capacity magazines ammunition, and a five-gallon bucket with chemicals that could be used to create an explosive device, officials said.

    Up till now, there is no connection to the attack at the gay nightclub in Orlando. Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said on Twitter that Howell told an officer that during his arrest on weapons charges that he wanted “to harm the Gay Pride event.” No specifics were provided. The bomb squad was called to ensure the car and surrounding area were safe.

    Howell is being held on $500,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday. Authorities are still searching for a friend of the man in question.    

Former Simeon Athlete Gunned Down In Los Angeles

Before former Simeon basketball player Saieed Ivey got the chance to return to the court, he was found dead in Los Angeles County on Thursday, on his 20th birthday.

The Monterey Police arrived to the scene, after receiving a call that gunshots had been fired, only to find Ivey in a car, dead of a gunshot wound, according to the Chicago Suntimes.

The case will be considered a homicide and will be handled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Ivey, a 2014 Simeon graduate, was a basketball player at East Los Angeles college. According to East Los Angeles basketball coach John Mosley, he had been expected to return to the game, after sitting out for a year to focus solely on school. Mosley also showed great despair, as he explained that he couldn't understand why such a thing had happened to a person, like Saieed Ivey.

Local scout Daniel Poneman described him as someone who was very determined. He stated, “He really wanted to play Division I basketball, so he found himself a spot at a junior college and was doing everything he could to make it happen” (Suntimes).

Ivey was a popular member of the city’s basketball community, as stated in the Chicago Suntimes. He was loved by all of his teammates.

Source: Chicago Suntimes abc 7 Chicago

Judge Grants Athlete a Lenient Sentence

A judge’s decision has been described as “too lenient”, in regards to former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner. Turner, 20, was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. Last week, Judge Aaron Pesky sentenced Turner to serve six months in jail for three counts of sexual assault, as reported by CBS News. Along with random drug and alcohol testing, he’ll also have to stay away from all alcohol and any places that sell mainly alcohol.

Alcohol, which seems to be ever so present in Brock Turner’s life, has taken more blame for his actions than any other factor. According to CBS News, Turner blamed his actions entirely on alcohol, claiming that it is never his intention to hurt anyone.

“I made a mistake, I drank too much…My poor decision making and excessive drinking hurt someone that night and I wish I could take it all back”, said the former swimmer, as stated in CBS News. More than anything, he played victim to the effects of heavy alcohol consumption, rather than taking responsibility for his actions.

Turner had attended a 2015 fraternity party on Stanford’s campus. That night, witnesses recalled him assaulting the “motionless” victim. One witness claimed that he went to check the victim and found that she was, in fact, unconscious.

In a compelling letter, describing the emotional aftermath of the assault, the victim stated that she doesn’t believe that he should be behind bars. In fact, she’s concerned about his vicious mindset and possible help that he so desperately needs.

The whole situation has sparked public outrage. While some feel as though Judge Pesky should be thrown off the bench, others believe that he handled the case, perfectly. Even on Stanford’s campus, there are people who have showed concern for the victim, while others have targeted her and accused her of lying.

Chicago Birthed a Champion

Chicago has once again taken a win, as it has been revealed that it was home to another legend. Cassius Clay was, in fact, born in Louisville, KY. But, boxing champion, Muhammad Ali, was born and raised on the South side of Chicago.

Ali (Clay) had been stripped of his boxing title, after refusing to fight in the Vietnam War, according to the Chicago Tribune. During that time, he had been somewhat disowned by those who had once looked up to him.

Feeling ostracized, Ali found solace in the arms of the Nation of Islam, on the South side of Chicago, in the 1960’s.  It was during that time, in Chicago, when a transformation took place. Initially, Ali had tried to blend in. He mostly hung out with friends on Stony Island Avenue and ate at the Nation of Islam’s bakery on 79th street, which is where he met the woman, who would soon become his second wife.

After marrying Khalilah Camacho, in 1964, he continued to live a somewhat ordinary life, which was a bit difficult, considering the fact that he was a heavy weight champion. There was no way Ali was capable of hiding the enormity of his fame. His heavyweight championship belt was locked in a trophy case, in the middle of his living room. Celebrities, like members of the Motown singing group the Temptations, came by for dinner. He shared some beautiful memories in Chicago.

Unfortunately, not all of the memories were positive. “These exile years were tough for him. He was growing…and learning about life. All of this was during the struggle of the civil rights period…”(Chicago Tribune). There was five year jail sentence hanging over his head, because of his refusal to fight in the war. There was also a skeptical fire that took place at his first apartment, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Fortunately, though, he had the support of the Nation of Islam. With its support, he developed a voice just as strong as his fists. He had begun to show his dedication to the Nation of Islam by voicing his opposition to war. He had also become a minister in the Nation of Islam.

Even the people of the South side showed great appreciation for him. He was very active in the community, just by simply performing good deeds.

It was on the South side, where he had received life-changing news about his conviction. He had been vindicated of the charge. Shortly after, the country welcomed Ali back with open arms. The main take-away is, during Ali’s most challenging season, Chicago was there. Chicago birthed one of America’s most cherished champions.

Shooter at UCLA kills two

Wednesday morning two people were killed in a shooting at the engineering building at UCLA. Not much is known about the victims, whether they were students, employees, or just visitors.

UCLA police chief, James Harren said that the police were investigating if one of the dead was in fact the gunman. “it is certainly possible that one of the victims is a shooter,” he said. The chief went on to say that the police would continue to search until the officers knew that the campus was safe.

There was one suspect in the shooting and he was described as a white male dressed in black, said law enforcement officials. He was described as wearing a black jacket and black pants as well.

All students and staff members were cleared out by the police. Students were seen out of the building, being asked to kneel as officers searched them as well as their belongings.

 

Source:NYT

Houston Shooter identified as Army Veteran

On Sunday, a quiet neighborhood in Houston was jolted awake as a gunman fired 212 rounds in the streets. He was eventually brought down by a SWAT officer who shot him dead. It was determined that the shooter, 25 year-old Dionisio Garza III was an army veteran who had served in Afghanistan. Officials confirmed that he was suffering from depression.

Garza had left San Bernardino County in California for Texas last week to meet some friends. The trip took a far darker turn when Garza fired 212 rounds that left one person dead and six wounded, including two police officers. It was determined that Garza went “off the radar” from friends and family after arriving in Texas. He broke into a tire shop and eventually he encountered 56- year old customer, Eugene Linsomb.

He ended up fatally wounding Linsomb and grabbing the AR-15 and began shooting passing cars as well as police officers that went past. Another man, John Wilson, was thought to have been a possible accomplice but it was later determined that he was trying to stop Garza himself. Wilson was shot in the leg but survived.

“What he did was very brave,” said Houston Police Chief, Martha Montalvo, “but officers are trained in these active shooter situations…” (NBC)

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After two tours in Afghanistan, family members realized that Dionisio was no longer the same man. They knew he was suffering from PTSD. Relatives, including the parents, Dionisio(father) and Michelle Garza expressed regret towards the actions of their son.

“I’m sorry for what happened. I’m sorry for the families,” said Michelle Garza. “Words are just words; I wish there was more we could do.”

Casey Anthony Returns to the public eye

Casey Anthony is back, to once again grab national attention. In 2011, she had been acquitted of the murder of her two year old daughter, Caylee Anthony, three years after she had disappeared. Five years later, new information has been revealed that may cause fingers to point towards Anthony, in regards of her daughter’s murder.

According to media reports, Dominic Casey, a private investigator, claimed that Casey Anthony’s attorney, Jose Baez, revealed to him that she admitted to murdering her daughter.

Baez had worked with Anthony in 2008, after her daughter had disappeared.

To add fuel to the fire, Casey (Dominic) also claimed that Baez and Anthony shared a sexual relationship. It had also been asserted that Anthony exchanged sexual activity for Baez’s legal services, according to USA Today.

Casey reportedly wrote that he walked into Baez’s office and found Anthony there, naked. She ran, immediately after he walked into the room.

Casey then stated that Anthony admitted that the only way she could pay for help was by offering to have sex with Baez.

Baez vigorously denied those claims, stating that he never shared any kind of sexual encounters with Anthony.

There has been no response from anyone of the Anthony family.

Leasing Company Profits While the City Plummets

Within the past few months there has been financial crises arising in Chicago along the lines of school funding with a number of other things. Questions have aroused as Chicago’s parking-meter system ranked in $121.7 million dollars in the last year and none of the proceeds are going into the city.

Those millions are going straight in the pockets of private investors who can control the fluctuation of meter prices as they wish. Several underground city-owned garages parking cash of $34.7 million dollars went to these private investors as well. These deals were made back in 2008 under Mayor Richard M. Daley and the City Council. The deal was made to be a 75-year deal, and it has implicated the city in several ways.

Previously before the deal the Chicago parking meters and garages were at a steady rate. But, the private investors hold all the control in the pricing and have increased the rates. The expensive parking meters of Chicago are digging into more than just citizen pockets in rates increase – the deal lengthened the hours of enforcement to increase the number of tickets distributed for the parking. With the lengthening of the hours, the private investors were also bestowed as enforcers of the meters and garage parking’s. The company has distributed hundreds of thousands of tickets in the course of a few years while steadily increasing.


Mixed feelings surrounded the situation and aggravation with the decision made. The meter privatization led to frustration for the citizens of Chicago as the rates raised continuously for the meters and the parking garages.

 

City officials haven’t complied when requested for comments despite un-restlessness in the city. The private companies will have the ability to do this till 2020, with 60 years of meter money to come. Sending streams of money to the investors while steadily draining Chicagoans pockets. Analysts expect the meter system to be in the favor of the investors as it continues throughout the years.

 

After Prayer on The 9

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending what can best be described as an anti-violence rally that was organized by Pastor John F. Hannah who presides over New Life Covenant Church and with support from about 50 other non-profit organizations.

It was a beautiful sight to see.

Asked to wear red in honor of lost loved ones, hundreds of people were on both sides of the street I was on (79th and Vernon) holding hands, praying, and eventually laid down in the middle of the streets for about 10 minutes holding pictures of their slain loved ones in complete silence, blocking any all traffic on 79th street.

A powerful moment that day was, however it must not stop there.

As a young woman whose love for God grows more and more each day, I KNOW the power of prayer. Prayer changes things, keeps you sane and let's God know that you want to hear from him.

Chicago is a beautiful city, but even beautiful things have an ugly side to them. This year alone has seen one too many deaths, and even as I write this I know more have and will occur. The violence across this city transcends any type of understanding, and many are left feeling hopeless, depressed, and looking for a way out.

Many don't understand the point of Saturday’s event. They feel that prayer is pointless when the shooting epidemic just gets worse and worse, communities continue to be impoverished and resources continue to get depleted.

Regardless of how you feel about it, remember that even the Bible says “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:17) meaning, that we cannot pray for anything without putting in the work behind it to sustain those prayers.

So as I prayed with a group of my friends on Saturday that the violence in Chicago will cease, I also prayed about what I, what WE can do to impact these communities in a positive way?

I prayed that adequate mental health services will be put into these communities to better assist those who may suffer from serious mental health issues.

I prayed that people will have more access to jobs and education opportunities, so they can feel economically and intellectually independent.

I prayed that people who have the tools and skills to better these communities come in and mentor the youth (which is half the battle) and expose them to positive things in life, whether it is by fostering their creativity, listening to their problems, or simply giving them things to do after school.

Speaking of after school, I prayed that the programs already in place to uplift the youth and the communities they come from will be properly and fully funded so that those in charge can adequately do their jobs. Nothing is worse than having a program that can change things for the better, and it suddenly disappears because they don't have the funds to keep their doors open.

I prayed about the high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence that plagues these communities, which is something that is not talked about enough but happens everyday.

I prayed for those who may not see the value in the next person, so that's why it's so easy to shoot and kill another person.

I also prayed for the conditions that lead people to often kill one another, whether it is the lack of parental support in the home, bad schooling, mental health issues, lack of employment, political corruption, etc.

Lastly, I prayed for the families of those who ever had to experience the lost of a loved one. But I pray that their loss inspires them to DO something, whether it is create an after school program, mentor the youth, or start a support circle for other people who have experienced a loss.

Photo by: Cody Mack

I challenge these churches to get out of their comfort zones. Historically, the BLACK church has always been at the forefront of all political and social activism when it comes to African-Americans. It shouldn't change just because we are in the 21st century. The rally was beautiful on Saturday, but I believe we NEED to take it a step further.

We need pastors, prophets, bishops, evangelists, and whatever other fancy title these people hold to get into these streets and do more than tell someone “I’m praying for you.”

Tell them you want to mentor them.

Tell these people who own non-profit organizations that you want to give them a space in your church so they will have a facility to hold their programs.

Gather church and community members and go into the communities and clean them up, plant gardens, hold block parties, etc.

Why not make “Prayer on the 9” a weekly thing?

The possibilities are endless if we get from behind the church pews and the pulpits.

More than anything, don't stop praying. But don't just stop at praying either.

Were you at the event on Saturday? How did it make you feel?

What do you think can be done to end the gun violence in Chicago?

What do you think the responsibility of the church is to help end the violence?

Kia Smith is a proud Chicagoan, struggling college student, and word aficionado. Catch more of her thoughts atkiasmithwrites.com and follow her on Twitter @KiaSmithWrites