By Illinois Review
On Monday, southside-based violence prevention organization, Ex-Cons for Community and Social Change (ECCSC) held a press conference at their Chicago headquarters to exhibit multiple assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition that were recently turned in by local teenagers to ECCSC’s founder, Tyrone Muhammad.
“There was enough ammunition to take out the entire southside of Chicago,” Muhammad shared with Illinois Review, with the backdrop of the guns and bullets displayed on a table in a large classroom inside his organization’s southside headquarters.
The teenagers, ages 15-19 years old, struck a deal with Muhammad that they would only turn in the weapons and ammunition, if he promised to help them find jobs, or assist them with job training programs.
“How is it so easy for young boys, 15 years old, to get this [weapons], but they can’t get a job. It’s easy for them to get weapons of mass destruction, but they can’t get a GED. Man, something wrong with that – either they smart or we stupid,” said Muhammad during his press conference.
Muhammad spoke in front of a table displaying the guns and ammunition, while local teenagers and violence prevention activists stood behind him – many wearing masks to hide their identities.
During his remarks, Muhammad pleaded with elected officials to “give us the tools – give us the resources. Create the safe spaces for these young men to go thrive and learn new habits.”
“I had to transform their habit, for them to give me this,” Muhammad said as he pointed to the guns and ammunition.
It wasn’t an easy task for Muhammad to convince the teenagers to hand over their guns and ammunition – because in the streets, these guns are their tools – it’s how they survive, “and to give up your tool, in the streets, that’s treacherous, is to really commit suicide.”
Following the press conference, a group of Chicago Police officers arrived, at Muhammad’s request, to take inventory of the assault rifles and ammunition; collect it, and take it back to the police department to be destroyed.
Last October, Muhammad and 40 members of his violence prevention group spent a week patrolling the CTA Red Line and conducting safety patrols, in an effort to drive down CTA-related violence.
Muhammad and his organization are working without any financial assistance from Gov. JB Pritzker or Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, for their violence prevention efforts.
And while ECCSC was due to receive funding from Pritzker last year, that funding never arrived – leaving Muhammad scrambling to find other ways to fund his violence prevention programs and initiatives.
And as for Pritzker and his fellow Democrats – they are nowhere to be found. Perhaps they prefer spending their money protecting big donors during the 2024 Democratic National Convention, instead.
As Muhammad so often says, “it’s going to take us, to save us.”