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CHICAGO – Poverty drives the majority of gun violence in the South Side of Chicago, and outside help is needed to bring change, a pastor in the community told Fox News.
“Violence is a fruit of something, not a root of something,” New Beginnings Church Pastor TJ Grooms said. “The root is that there is no economic vitality.”
“People are struggling financially,” Grooms continued. “And when you struggle financially, when you are living in an area that does not have what it needs to, not just survive, but to thrive, people begin to do things such as shoot, steal, rob, murder, kill.”
Over 17% of Chicagoans live in poverty, compared to a national average of 11%, according to the most recent Census data.
“I mentor dozens of of of young men who have been directly affected by gun violence or who are one step away from committing it,” Grooms told Fox News. “They always tell me … ‘Pastor, you know, if I had a job, you know, if I had money, if I had resources, I wouldn’t do what I do.”
“We need outside help, outside resources, people who don’t look like us, people who don’t think like us, people who come from different walks of life to be willing to come in and step in and say, ‘I want to make a difference,’” Grooms told Fox News. “Once we begin to pour the amount of resources, the effort, the energy into making sure that this area is economically viable, it will calm down and reduce the level of violence that we see.”