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"The Interrupters": From Art to Action

From Art to Action: The St. Luke’s Social Justice Film Series Continues ….

by Joe Scarry

We had a wonderful screening and discussion of “The Interrupters” at St. Luke’s on Sunday, March 25. About 30 people participated!

We were joined by Eddie Bocanegra, one of the Ceasefire “interrupters” featured in the film.  Eddie now works with the Community Renewal Society, and he was joined by Kristin Holm to talk about some of the CRS initiatives in which St. Luke’s is participating (see below).  In addition, Raul Echevarria and Darrell Johnson from ALSO joined us to talk about specific programs in the Logan Square & Humboldt Park areas.

We watched “The Interrupters” and then embarked on a wide-ranging discussion.  Here are just a few of the points covered:

  • We started off with a discussion of the way the change of seasons — and the sudden summer-like heat — often brings an outbreak of violence as people with unresolved conflicts come in contact again on the streets.
  • Raul talked about the range of measures being undertaken to reduce violence in our neighborhoods, including Ceasefire interrupters, work by outreach workers to help people navigate needs such as jobs, and faith-based partnerships.
  • Several people talked about the problem of violence that has become a norm at all levels of our society — among individuals in our neighborhoods, against whole sections of population by the government, and in the wars that go on and on.Eddie talked about the role of early trauma in the difficulties in later life that so many people experience.
  • We talked about how each of us can be a mediator in our own circles, to address specific conflicts; we also talked about the need to become leaders and advocates, so that we can get to the root of the violence that is so pervasive in our society.
  • We spent quite a while discussing the need for people who have a criminal record to be able to get employment.  The degree to which so many people are blocked from working, and the frustration and sense of hopelessness it engenders, is an enormous contributor to the ongoing cycle of violence.  A related issue is the need to resolve conflicts that occur in our schools, so that young people are not excluded from the education system by punitive conflict resolution measures.
  • We discussed the gentrification in our neighborhood — the “two Logan Squares” — and the importance of figuring out ways for everyone in the community to be a positive contributor to the continuing life of the whole community. Everyone in the community needs to have a real sense that “this place where I come from has value!”

We came together to do more than just talk; we re-affirmed our commitment to several of the Community Renewal Society initiatives that we have been working on, and learned about some new ones.

Here are some of the ways we will be following up:

  • Get in touch with the people at ALSO who are helping young people in the Logan Square & Humboldt Park area find alternatives to violence. Contact Raul Echevarria ( )
  • Call Alderman Colon (773-365-3535) and urge him to support the High HOPES resolution introduced by Alderman Burnett and to pass it out of the Education Committee for a unanimous yes vote by the full Chicago City Council.  This will help reduce suspension and expulsion in the Chicago Public Schools, bring about true restorative justice programming across the city, and help make our ward and city a safe and just place to live. For more click here.
  • Support legislation to seal felony records for non-violent felonies and enable more people to work. Expanding record sealing to include more non-violent, drug related felonies would expand the chance for thousands of people to get a job, provide for their families and contribute to their communities. By reducing recidivism, it would save the state money and make our communities safer. For more click here.
  • Join with members of St. Luke’s and other Community Renewal Society congregations when we travel to Springfield on April 24 to press for the full CRS Platform for Renewal. For more information, contact Joe Scarry

Each month, St. Luke’s takes a special Justice Offering during worship.  The proceeds of the April Justice Offering will be donated to Ceasefire.

The Social Justice ministry at St. Luke’s meets again on Sunday, April 22 at noon (following worship) to work on these and other initiatives. Join us!

St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square is located at 2649 N. Francisco Ave, Chicago, IL, 60647

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  1. Pingback: NATO: A Mighty Fortress is Our God? « The Messenger

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