Chicago gang summit attracts few gang members


[h=2]National Unity Summit attended mostly by relatives of victims, anti-violence activists[/h]
When ex-gang member Robert White addressed about 20 people Saturday at a Far South Side church, he spoke animatedly about his days as a Black P Stone and how he turned his life around after spending a chunk of it in prison.

But to White's chagrin, the audience comprised mostly grieving relatives of Chicago's homicide victims and representatives from anti-violence groups — not the troubled youths he mentors.

"Disappointed is an extreme understatement. I'm pissed off," said White, 43, outside the 10,000-seat House of Hope sanctuary at Salem Baptist Church of Chicago, 752 E. 114th St. "How you addressing a gang summit and no gang members are here?"

Billed as a "National Unity Summit" for gang members from across the city, hardly any showed up to Saturday's event, a gathering endorsed by the likes of the Rev. Al Sharpton and other civil rights activists and clergy. Sharpton did not attend the event.

The Rev. Gregory Tatum, a Los Angeles-based minister originally from Chicago, and his wife paid for the summit. He said he tried to provide busing for 200 to 300 gang members from around the city, but the event drew no more than a couple of dozen gang members.

Tatum said he's not surprised by the poor attendance.

"I think people kind of have this wait-and-see mentality — even politicians, some clergy people, some gang members," said Tatum, who grew up in crime-plagued Cabrini-Green, the former housing project on Chicago's Near North Side. "They want to see if this is the same-old, same-old. And I understand that. I think they want to see some real change."

Tatum said he was inspired to organize the summit after speaking with a former gang leader in California last year. Tatum plans to organize similar events in Detroit, Kansas City, Mo., and possibly Cleveland because "God put it in my heart to go to these cities."

One of Saturday's speakers, Tio Hardiman, noted the 1993 gathering happened at a time when being in a gang was like a "badge of honor." Hardiman, a Democratic candidate for governor and former director of the anti-violence group CeaseFire Illinois, said youths today are more likely to be hesitant to admit their gang affiliations publicly, one reason he said few attended Saturday's event.

Hardiman also said attendance Saturday was low because many gang members sleep until the late morning or early afternoon. Saturday's program ran from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The summit kicked off with a vigil Friday night in honor of Chicago's homicide victims.,0,1400418.story


All the black on black killings between gang members and they cannot get the race hustlers to even show up, guess they figured there is no money to make.
Reality check for the naive; gang members don't see themselves as the problem. society is the problem.

As for the race hustlers; they feel the same way except they think the problem is Republicans.
You hit on some real problems with such events. Anyone remember Bill Clinton inviting the Bloods and the Crips to his first inauguration?

These folks should have worked with an established group in putting this together. The Chicago Police Department, for example, could have brought in groups of youths not yet in the gangs - from various police-related and community youth groups. When at-risk kids meet up with the suviving parents, brothers, and sisters of youths killed in gang wars, it sends quite a powerful message.

This fellow's heart is in the right place, and we should all wish him luck. but if he's seeking real results he can't do it alone.