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First talk, then act on urban violence

Updated: August 27, 2013 6:27AM

Conversation won’t stop the violence destroying lives and neighborhoods in Chicago and across urban America.

But it’s an excellent place to begin.

And an important one will take place on Friday, when thousands are expected to gather on Chicago’s South Side for what’s billed as a “national summit on violence in urban communities.”

The host is the Congressional Black Caucus and its three Chicago members, U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush, Robin Kelly and Danny K. Davis.

The daylong session at Chicago State University will focus on the causes of four types of violence — gun, gang, domestic and youth — and solutions. The Chicago conveners promise to leave with three concrete “calls to action.”

These veterans know better than most that a day of conversation with no action isn’t a day well spent.

“We’ll talk about causes, but we already know about that — we really want to talk about the solutions,” Kelly said. “People don’t feel free to sit on their porch, to walk to store, to send their kids to school. We’re in the United States of America and that should not be.”

A goal of the summit is to focus national attention on the plague of urban violence — a steady, deadly epidemic that doesn’t grab the nation by the throat the way, say, the Newtown shooting did last year.

But whole neighborhoods in Chicago — and Detroit, L.A. and New York — know Newtown’s pain all too well.

After 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was so senselessly murdered here this year, we put it this way:

“We are Newtown, where every day another mother doubles over in pain.

“Chicago is Newtown, where mass murder rolls along one day to the next.”

The solutions are complex, multilayered and hard to pull off — and new laws and law enforcement are just one part. As Rush made clear after U.S. Sen Mark Kirk in June offered up the idea of arresting about 18,000 Gangster Disciples in Chicago, the solutions must reach deep into communities, creating jobs, social supports, better schools and economic development.

More cops and better laws will invariably come up on Friday, as they should.

But the deep, lasting solutions lie in better and healthier communities.

Come to the summit, lend a hand. You also can listen it at

Let the conversation begin.

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