Hundreds gathered Friday at Chicago State University after members of the Congressional Black Caucus called an "emergency" national summit on urban violence.
U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, a Chicago Democrat elected to office this year, told NPR gun violence in her district, specifically a Fourth of July weekend during which 74 people were shot, was the tipping point that prompted the summit. Though murders and shootings are down this year compared to 2012 in Chicago, crime is still having a major impact on much of the city.
"We're beating the drum, and I know I'm not going to let this die because we're losing a generation of young people," Kelly said Friday, according to DNAinfo Chicago.
The summit came on the heels of a night in Chicago when six people were shot. Friday evening into Saturday morning, at least another five people were wounded in shootings citywide.
Members of the Black Caucus -- also including Reps. Bobby Rush, Danny Davis and Maxine Waters -- were joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a number of law enforcement experts, academics and members of the public at the event.
Davis and others admitted the issue at hand is a complex one with no easy solution, the Chicago Sun-Times noted.
"It’s poverty, it’s school closings, its a lack of good education opportunities, it’s a lack of jobs and opportunity to work, it’s the need for parenting, it’s need to rebuild the infrastructure and so all of these things become a part of the comprehensiveness of violence," Davis said, according to the Sun-Times.
Addressing the summit, Emanuel emphasized the city must continue to work to "make our streets safer so they [the city's children] have a normal childhood and it is not stolen from them by violence," CBS Chicago reports.
"Common sense" gun laws are also needed, the mayor continued.
Some people at the summit remained skeptical of the members of Congress who convened the gathering. Activist Ezra McCann told ABC Chicago, "I can't say we need to just get rid of them, but we need to see something else different to work for our people."
The Chicago event may be followed up by a national tour to other U.S. cities impacted by gun violence, such as New Orleans and Baltimore, according to NPR.