July 22, 2022
On July 17th, 2022, SWOP came together with over 100 member institutions to demonstrate what organizing together to reclaim their communities looks like. With a turnout of over 1,500 people, United Power for Action and Justice, Metro IAF, Lake County United, Dupage United and Fox Valley Initiative tackled what it means to reclaim their communities from gun violence, incarceration of those who require mental health assistance and the reclaiming of homes in their communities. With powerful speakers coming up to share their testimonies about the increase in gun violence and the lack of action taken to prevent these gun related crimes, they called for a change to gun laws and gun technology. When looking over the rate of incarceration against those with unchecked mental illness, those in attendance called out for resources to be placed into their communities to accommodate those who are struggling. When addressing the number of foreclosures, vacant homes, and vacant lots, they showed that they are still fighting for equity using reclaiming campaigns that fix those vacant lots and buildings and allow community members to purchase and move into them.
From this action, the collective voices of these groups were able to get six political leaders to step up and recognize the issues that they have worked hard to combat and commit to continuing to work with these organizations to create change. Though the action itself may have ended, the united organizations are only just getting started and in one meeting showed what is possible when an organized group of communities use their power to rally for change as well as produce it. Hundreds of homes have been built and are continuing to be built, a grant for expanding the number of municipalities who are part of the gun safety consortium have been submitted and strategies for creating Crisis Stabilization Units for the mentally ill are being put into place. The goal is to continue to push for more resources for each and every one of their communities and SWOP is more than excited to be a part of the action.