History was made on July 26, 2015, in the 21st Ward.
United States veterans, supported by Robert Davis of the American Legion, turned out to deliver a message to the violent criminal element plaguing our great city. “Stand down or we will stand up.”
The full transcript of the news conference follows.
My name is Robert Davis and I am the Commander of American Legion Post #800. I served our country 34 years in the U.S. Army and Army reserves, and now feel an important calling to serve again. I’m asking my fellow veterans to join me.
This senseless violence that plagues our communities MUST STOP. We constantly hear about 20, 30, 40, or 50 shootings over a weekend reported in the news.
I’m here to tell you that that number doesn’t reflect what happened on our streets the other 5 days of the week. This BLACK on BLACK crime has inundated our communities to such an extent that we as a society have become numb to it. It’s as if we’re living in a war zone.
The police are doing their best to deal with the situation but they don’t have the manpower, in some cases the firepower and ,in the majority of situations, the community’s support to help to solve the problem.
Too many times we hear “nobody knows anything” or “nobody saw anything.” We know nobody wants to be known as a snitch and that there are legitimate concerns for the safety of their families. But we cannot stand for the few intimidating and controlling the many.
Two weekends ago two young men were murdered right behind us. Inside of that building, was a budding American Legion Post that had received it’s charter a little more than a year ago and was beginning to affect it’s community in so many positive ways. Inside of that building was the Urbanite Veterans Program, one of the country’s newest SSVF providers, whose goal is to find Veterans who are homeless or at risk of being homeless and provide them with housing, rental assistance, utility assistance, job assistance, and stand them back up so they can have another opportunity at life and being good productive citizens. So, when that vehicle ended up inside of that American Legion Post, The Post under my command, leaving the building uninhabitable, it affected so many lives. When the war zone comes to our doorsteps and our community lives in fear, this demands a response. It demands A CALL TO SERVICE.
Mayor Emmanuel, you have mentioned that, ‘we must make every opportunity available to the children of the city of Chicago so they can grow up focused about their studies, not their safety.” And, you stated that “No single part of the system can do this alone and we will not rest until every young person in Chicago feels the same sense of security.” The shootings and the violent crimes have got to stop. The future and the reputation of our city has been stained to such a degree that we have been labeled as Chiraq, I was away on vacation when this tragic incident occurred and as I traveled throughout the south, I was constantly asked what are yall going to do about the violence in your city. I didn’t have any answers. This is a cancer for our communities that must be properly diagnosed, exercised and discarded. Mr. Mayor, my fellow United States Veterans and I have heard your call and we are here to help! I have developed some strategies that I want to discuss with your staff and then to develop a battle plan that we can present to the veteran community and the veteran organizations.
Throughout this country our communities are inundated with Veteran Organizations such as the American Legion, VFW, Disabled Veterans, Montford Point Marines, National Women Veterans United and many more. The American Legion, the organization to which I belong, is the largest of these veteran organizations with nearly 3 million members and 3 thousand post. In the Chicagoland area alone there are more than 400 posts scattered throughout our communities.
When we veterans were called to serve our country, we swore to defend the Constitution of the United States Of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. My fellow United States Veterans and I RISKED OUR LIVES TO PROTECT THE GOD GIVEN FREEDOMS AFFORDED TO ALL AMERICANS and we will not standby and allow the criminal element in the city to destroy all for which we have fought and suffered. We can longer allow you to treat our streets like some video game in which you kill and mame and NO CONSEQUENCES!
These children standing here, the elderly, the members of the clergy, the institutions, the things and values that make up our communities are under attack. We cannot stand by and let the actions of a few destroy the things we swore to defend!
There is much we can do to take back our streets and these are skills many veterans already have.
I’m calling on my fellow veterans to STAND UP and serve again in a brand new mission. I’m calling on our businesses, churches, block clubs, and citizens to step up and help support this mission. I’m calling on our elected leaders to work with us and give us the resources and guidance to ensure that this mission can stop the violence that has plagued and terrorized our neighborhoods.
Mr. Mayor. We heard your call. And, we are here to help.
Robert Davis, First Sergeant, USA Retired
Commander American Legion Post 800