Mayor Richard M. Daley today announced a comprehensive public service campaign funded with $500,000 in federal economic stimulus money aimed at raising the awareness of the devastating impact the “code of silence” protecting criminals has on every resident of Chicago.
“Ending the violence against our young people is the most troubling and frustrating challenge our city faces today,” Daley said in a news conference held at South Shore High School 7520 S. Constance Av.
“One of the most troubling parts of the violence against our young people is the code of silence in many neighborhoods that protects the gang bangers and drug dealers who are killing our children. It must end,” he said.
The public service campaign, called “Silence Kills,” features the parents and loved ones of young Chicagoans who have been killed by criminal violence.
The campaign includes television and print public service announcements in which the family members share their personal stories and a powerful message with their fellow residents: “Stop the violence. Stop the silence. Silence kills.”
In addition, the campaign will include community forums to be held all across the city to address the code of silence issue and will train young people to carry the message into their neighborhoods.
The three-year grant will also support filling a full-time position within the CAPS program dedicated to working with the Chicago Public Schools, the police department, community-based organizations and young people to develop and carry out steps that address the challenge of the code of silence.
The Mayor thanked the families taking part in the campaign for their willingness to help the City carry the message into Chicago’s neighborhoods and for their commitment to making Chicago a city in which other parents won’t suffer the loss they have already endured.
Daley said the Chicago Police Department has stepped up its strategies to fight gang, drug and gun violence to make sure they're effectively using every tool at their disposal, including breaking up the gangs that are behind much of the violence.
In 2009, all homicides were down 10.5 percent from the previous year and the number of homicides involving young people was down 24 percent while shootings were down 9 percent.
“That's good news, but of little comfort to me and those who have lost their loved ones. And I can't emphasize how important it is for all residents of Chicago to accept their responsibility to keep our children safe,” he said.
Daley urged Chicago television and radio stations, cable systems and newspapers to run the announcements and spread the message that “silence kills,” and he again challenged every person in Chicago to end the code of silence.
He said it is the shared responsibility of all Chicagoans to get the City’s most troubled kids on the right track and away from gangs in the first place, to better protect every student from violence at school and on the way to and from school and to engage young people in positive activities and provide the mentors and positive role models they need.
“If you know about a crime, report it. If you know who is involved in a crime, report them. Something as simple as using a cell phone to report a crime can solve a crime. And there are many ways people can safely and anonymously report crimes and criminals -- including through their religious leaders,” the Mayor said.
“I pledge that we will never give in to the gang bangers and drug dealers who perpetuate violence and don't care about whether people live or die,” he said.