July 21, 2014
There are debates over policy that are civil and there are debates that are fueled by disrespect, racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism. The new gun store and firing range being proposed in the Chicago suburb of Niles has generated conversation on both sides of the issue. People can have differences of opinion but it is never acceptable to utilize images of Nazis and the Holocaust to make one’s point. One of the largest online gun lobby media outlets, AmmoLand, published a call to action for their supporters that included explicit and offensive Nazi images along with misogynist anti-women language. AmmoLand, along with the Illinois State Rifle Association, are urging their supporters to attend the upcoming Niles Trustees Meeting (Tuesday, July 22nd, 7:00 PM at 1000 Civic Center Drive, Niles, IL) to voice their support for this store and firing range at the final vote on the matter by explicitly attacking women and labeling those who support sensible gun policies as Nazis.
Example of gun lobby Holocaust imagery
The establishment, if opened, will be next door to several schools, including Niles West High School. Business owners have gone on record stating that it will negatively impact their livelihoods and community members testified to the emotional and psychological toll it would take on them hearing bullets being fired all day during business hours. JCUA was present for the second hearing for the special use permit at the Niles Plan Commission Meeting and testified against opening the store in the proposed location. Nonetheless, the Plan Commission voted 5-2 to send the proposal up to the Niles Trustees for a final vote. It is imperative that those who support our kids having a safe neighborhood to go to school in and those who support stopping the flow of guns into the City of Chicago from neighboring suburban gun stores come to this meeting tomorrow and voice their opposition to this gun store. The gun lobby is using fear mongering, hateful and anti-Semitic rhetoric to rouse their supporters to the meeting. We must be present with common sense, clarity and civility. Please attend the meeting tomorrow.
What: Final vote on new gun store and firing range
Where: Niles Municipal Building (1000 Civic Center Drive, Niles, IL)
When: Tuesday, July 22nd at 7:00 pm (come early to get a seat)
July 9, 2014
This past Monday night over two hundred people packed into an auditorium in Niles for a meeting of the Niles Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals. The issue that brought out people from all over Chicagoland was the proposed opening of a new gun store and firing range at 6143 Howard Street. The location proposed for the store is next to multiple schools including New Hope Academy, a school for children with severe emotional needs, and Niles West High School.
JCUA, in partnership with the Illinois Coalition Against Handgun Violence and People for a Safer Society, attended the meeting on Monday night. Rabbi Ben Greenberg, Director of Programs, offered testimony to the commission opposing the gun store. Rabbi Greenberg stated what should be the obvious that “[it is] in the best interest of our children to not place gun stores and firing ranges especially ones that allow children to enter, near our schools.” A petition of more than 1000 signatures from people all over the Chicago area was presented to the commission. Nonetheless, the commission voted 5-2 to approve the special use permit and send it up to the Village Trustees for a vote.
There were several disturbing pieces of information that became clear during the commission meeting that must be publicized: Read the rest of this entry »
July 2, 2014
A little less than a year ago, JCUA embarked on a new initiative of developing a membership program. Membership in JCUA costs nothing because it is about investing your passion, desire and time for a more just and equitable Chicago. It is about standing up and saying like the great individuals throughout Jewish history, “hineni – here I am,” and I am ready to do my part in the work of social justice. Since February, nearly 300 hundred people all over Chicagoland have stood up and said they wanted to be involved and take the next step. A major step occurred this past Monday night as we held our first member meeting.
[The next step is being planned now! Please fill out the Google Form indicating your interest.]
While the storm raged outside nearly 40 people gathered at the Spertus Institute to further their commitment to combatting poverty and racism in Chicago. The meeting began with a welcome by Judy Levey, executive director of JCUA, who discussed the importance of building a Chicago based Jewish movement for social justice together. Read the rest of this entry »
June 18, 2014
The Chicago City Council Public Safety Committee today (June 18) unanimously adopted an Emanuel administration proposal that would tighten restrictions on gun retailers while still allowing gun sales in the city.
The committee vote followed a hearing at which the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and several organizations spoke in support of the measure.
JCUA’s Judy Levey (center, at mic) testifies in support of an ordinance that would impose restrictions on gun sales in Chicago.
“We urge the City Council of Chicago to be bold enough to enact this common sense ordinance to reduce the supply of and access to illegal guns in this city, in an effort to reduce easy access to guns and resulting fatalities,” said JCUA executive director Judy Levey in her testimony to the committee.
“It is far too easy for gun traffickers and violent offenders to get their hands on guns that were stolen or purchased illegally, destroying lives, families, and far too much human potential. JCUA worked on gun titling legislation in Springfield last year, which did not pass. We endorse the ordinance and urge our City legislators to respond urgently and responsibly in order to protect Chicago’s families from the devastation of gun violence,” Levey testified.
Read the rest of this entry »
June 12, 2014
As we witnessed this week the 74th school shooting since Adam Lanza opened fire on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012 it is easy to feel overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness as to what we can do as individuals. With each school shooting it becomes less sporadic and transforms into a regular occurrence and a real fear for so many of us. We send our children to school hoping that they will be educated and now we also hope that they return home alive. JCUA works with our community partners throughout Chicagoland to address the root causes of gun violence. For example, we have been active recently with the coalition to bring a trauma center to the south side. There is currently no trauma center capable of handling gun shot victims anywhere on the south side of Chicago. In addition, to the work of addressing the systemic issues of gun violence, there is something very practical all of us can do to make an impact.
Since 2005 contributions from gun companies to the National Rifle Association (NRA) has totaled upwards of $60 million dollars. Gun companies funnel their money to fund the chief gun lobbying organization in the United States. Every gun purchase an individual makes helps strengthen the gun lobby. Yet, for those of us that do not buy guns, we also may be unwittingly funding the gun lobby. Do you know if your 401k or other retirement account invests in the gun industry? It is imperative that we divest our retirement money from the gun industry.
This week JCUA attended a workshop with the Campaign to Unload and People for a Safer Society to discuss the urgent need for all of us to divest our retirement accounts from gun companies. The Campaign to Unload has targeted three specific gun companies, three of the largest contributors to the NRA for divestment: Sturm, Roger and Co., Smith & Wesson and Olin Corporation’s Winchester Ammunition. Each of these companies are close allies of the gun lobby and have donated millions to fund those that work to block common sense gun legislation both federally and at the state level.
While contemplating the horrific loss of life every day to gun violence do not feel helpless. There is something concrete and quick you can do. Divest your retirement accounts from these companies and send a financial message that we will no longer tolerate this. As President Obama said after the latest school shooting in Oregon: “Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country on Earth that would put up with this.”
1) Visit the Campaign to Unload and People for a Safer Society websites to find out more about the divestment campaign.
2) Call your investment manager or bank and find out if your retirement accounts are invested in Sturm, Roger and Co., Smith & Wesson or Olin Corporation and ask for your money to be taken out of those companies.