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There have been 238 shootings in Chicago so far in 2022, according to the city of Chicago. The warmer weather is coming and there will be more people out and about. This means there will be more shooting incidents, but there is a plan in place, “Please put the guns down because all lives matter.” This campaign seeks to stretch beyond gang violence to stop all gun violence in Chicago.
The antigun campaign, “Please put the guns down because all lives matter” appears at events across the city to spread the word through free T-shirts. Soon, the campaign will throw school pep rallies encouraging youth to put their guns down.
Eric Knowles talked with Chicago Leader about teaching young people business skills to deter them from the streets. He believes the antigun campaign should target younger people at the elementary level. He has an 8-week initiative that trains young entrepreneurs in business-minded practices. The program is called The Entrepreneurial Network (TEN). Knowles plans to have people at every major event in Chicago handing out free “Please put the guns down” T-shirts and information about the TEN program.
“If one T-shirt can save a life, then it’s worth it,” Knowles said. Last year, the initiative gave away hundreds of free T-shirts. This year, they plan to give away thousands. The goal is to blanket the city with the T-shirts so if an altercation occurs and the shirt is read, it will hopefully change the minds of gun holders involved in the situation. This is why it is important to give away as many T-shirts as possible. The more people wear them, the more people read them, the more the message is spread, and the more likely it will encourage people to act.
Education is key to deterring gun violence. TEN gives young people unique opportunities to learn ways to start their own businesses. This breaks the need to commit crimes for survival. It also deters gang membership and the need for the association. Young people turn to gangs for many reasons including acceptance, financial, and protective reasons. If these needs can be met another way, the hope is that young people will not pick up a gun in the first place.
Knowles stated that through Project 1,000 they aim to show the world that regardless of how bad things may look with all the poverty, addictions, racism, and sexual perversions — even with all the violence and senseless shootings — putting the guns down is important.
Project 1,000’s mission is to create 1,000 jobs in the communities by establishing 10 businesses each year for 10 years. These businesses would employ 10 people each.
Their goal is to saturate the communities in Chicago with over 100,000 pieces of literature including flyers, posters, yard signs, billboards, caps, masks, and T-shirts with their message:
Please PUT THE GUNS DOWNS Chicago and Pick Up Project 1,000.
It is time to band together and impact change. It is time for the neighborhoods to take back their streets. It is time for the people to stand up and demand the gun violence stop in Chicago. Make a difference today and change lives. Save lives and put the guns down because all lives matter. Show up and show off the shirts. Spread the message for change this summer.
Look for “Please put the guns down because all lives matter” T-shirts at major events around the city. They were featured at the 1K Man March and the Memorial Day celebrations and will continue to be featured during Father’s Day festivities, and other events throughout the summer. Spread the message and help save a life.
Written by Jeanette Vietti
Interview: Eric Knowles 4/19/2022
Chicago.gov: Programs & Initiatives
Images Courtesy of Eric Knowles – Used With Permission