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Rahm May Discuss How Absentee Fathers Contribute To Gang Violence In Upcoming Speech

By Sarah Gouda in News on Sep 16, 2016 8:35PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel earlier this year (Getty Images)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is apparently connecting the city's epidemic of violence with absentee fathers in African-American families, according to sources privy to a preview of an upcoming policy speech.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Sources said stakeholders invited to City Hall to hear broad strokes of the mayor’s speech were surprised by how direct Emanuel plans to be about a sociological problem he views as a driving force behind Chicago’s cycle of gang violence. During sessions akin to focus groups, Emanuel talked about encountering only one black father in all of the homes, hospital rooms, churches and funerals he has visited after innocent children were gunned down or wounded on the streets of Chicago.
An anonymous source called Emanuel's approach "either courageous or foolhardy" given his standing in many communities, "He’s right that there needs to be a conversation about this. I’m not sure he’s the right messenger. But you can’t keep waiting for the right messenger to come along.”

Shari Runner, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, who was in the audience for one of these previews, told the Sun-Times, "The absence of the father in the black community is not attributable to the fact that they do not want to be there. When all of the fathers are either in prison or dead, they can’t possibly be at the bedsides of their children."

The Sun-Times' article may be a trial balloon for Emanuel and his team; deputy mayor Andrea Zopp told the newspaper that the meetings have been “very open, honest and authentic" when regarding tough issues.

The mayor also said in these previews that he plans to nearly triple the Becoming a Man program to reach 8,000 students. The initiative was found to cut arrests for at-risk youths by 35% and raise graduation rates by 19%.