Chicago CEOs Raise $100 Million to Fight Crime After Bloody Days

(Bloomberg) -- Chicago business leaders, wealthy families and philanthropic organizations have raised $100 million to help fight crime, an announcement that comes days after a violent holiday weekend.

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Donors including McDonald’s Corp., Allstate Foundation, Ulta Beauty Inc. and the Crown family reached a goal of providing half of the $200 million that’s required for an initiative to reduce gun violence. The group, led by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, said it plans to raise millions more for other pillars of the group’s public safety plan, which includes community investments and jobs.

The news comes after 19 people died and more than 100 people were shot in Chicago over the 4th of July holiday period, prompting Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker to seek help from the White House. The funds will support an initiative backed by governments and community organizations that seeks to reduce gun violence by 75% in a decade.

The money “is the first step,” said Mark Hoplamazian, chief executive officer of Hyatt Hotels who is co-chair of the Civic Committee’s public safety task force. “We are also committed to hiring from and investing in communities plagued by gun violence and supporting efforts to modernize and strengthen the Chicago Police Department.”

The city has grappled with persistent crime that has outraged business leaders and residents alike, with Ken Griffin’s Citadel citing violence as one of the reasons for relocating to Miami. At a recent event, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said Mayor Brandon Johnson hadn’t done nearly enough to combat crime, Crain’s Chicago Business reported.

During the July 4 holiday period, 109 people were shot in 74 different incidents across the city, according to preliminary figures from the Chicago Police Department. Some of the victims were children.

“We have to really stop and think about the mindset of someone who will shoot a child, a helpless child, an unarmed mother and think that’s okay, and go about their day,” Chicago Police Superintendent Larry Snelling said at a press conference on July 8. “Those people have to be taken off the streets, they have to be put away.”

The summer months account for more than a third of the city’s shootings every year, according to the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab. This year, there’s extra attention as the city hosts the Democratic National Convention, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of protesters.

The violence prompted Pritzker, whose relationship with Mayor Johnson has at times been shaky, to write to the White House asking for funds on behalf of the city. The letter, dated July 4th, cited a mass shooting involving “minors and children of tender age.”

“Chicago has communicated to my office that they need additional federal resources to respond to this tragedy,” Pritzker said in the letter. He added that he hoped the federal goverment is “able to support the city of Chicago by providing them the resources and funding necessary to adequately combat and respond to incidents of gun violence, both now and in the future.”

The funds raised by the business community also included donations from Illinois Tool Works Inc., the Steans Family Foundation, GCM Grosvenor and the Pritzker Foundation. They add to $175 million from the state’s Reimagine Public Safety Act that’s part of the budget passed earlier this year.

The money will support a plan labeled Scaling Community Violence Intervention for a Safer Chicago, or SC2, which will focus on seven neighborhoods including North Lawndale, Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and Austin, where Mayor Johnson lives.

Arne Duncan, the former US education secretary who co-founded an anti-gun violence nonprofit known as the Chicago CRED, highlighted the violence over the weekend. He added that all parts of society need to “get better,” and that includes the community violence intervention community, the police, businesses and philanthropy.

“The level of gun violence in our city is so extreme that we cannot let up for even a moment,” he said. “Every one of us must be part of the answer.”

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