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On Thursday, a town hall meeting hosted by Al Sharpton and the National Action Network to address gun violence exploded into a revolt against “Chicago Machine” politics, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and the aldermen in City Hall, with panel and audience members calling to vote out their elected officials.
One 82-year-old preacher even called for “Tea Party” style meetings in some of Chicago’s south side communities such as Altgeld Gardens and Trumbull Park.
“This was a historic event,” Paul McKinley of V.O.T.E. (Voices of the Ex-Offender) and former 2nd Congressional District GOP nominee to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr. told Breitbart News. “Not because of Al Sharpton coming to town,” he continued. “This was first time since electing Mayor Harold Washington in the eighties that all of these grassroots groups and community organizers have come together under one roof to talk about the problems plaguing our community.”
While the stated goal for Sharpton was to bring the many different groups together to discuss solutions to the city’s violence epidemic, he may not have gotten the types of responses he was looking for. Calls for more gun control laws and getting guns off the streets were nonexistent and not mentioned by residents throughout the session.
Instead, attendees offered solutions addressing the problems facing their community as a whole rather than just taking on “gun violence” itself. Audience members addressed the need for jobs and solving the foreclosure crisis plaguing Chicago’s south and west sides. Perhaps the loudest message—and one that Reverend Al or the Chicago media have yet to report on—echoed by several different people in attendance as well as panel members was that it is time for the black community to start voting differently.
“The manner in which we have been voting needs to change,” Wendy Pearson, an activist against Chicago school closings, told the room. “I’m here to say to you that we have been trained to vote in a specific manner… we need to start looking at the manner in which our elected officials have been voting… if they have not voted in a manner that is beneficial to you, yours, and your community, then you need to start voting them out.”
McKinley told the room, “Stop blaming just anybody for the violence in the city of Chicago. Blame the right people, not just white people, but the right people. Because it’s not just white folks a part of this, but it is on the fifth floor. The fifth floor took your schools, the fifth floor just took your jobs that he said that he gave to the ex-offender… and every single alderman was a part of this criminal process.”
McKinley called on President Obama to help the grassroots by discontinuing aid and government grants that go through Chicago’s political machine to “name-brand-blue-ribbon-negro-organizations” such as the NAACP and Urban League. McKinley told Breitbart News those groups “are poverty pimps, and are part of the problem and not the solution.”