26-year-old Gun Violence Prevention Activist is Taking on 26-year incumbent Rep. Bobby Rush

The Intercept

A 26-YEAR-OLD ORGANIZER in Chicago is mounting a primary challenge to Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who has been a member of Congress for 26 years.

Robert Emmons, whose best friend, high school classmate, and freshman roommate was shot and killed in 2015, is making gun violence prevention a cornerstone of his campaign. The Windy City experiences gun violence at alarming yet not uncommon rates, as compared to other metropolitan areas — but the number of fatal shootings is in some ways unique to Chicago, where Emmons’s 21-year-old friend was one of 424 people killed by gunshots in 2015. Rush’s own son was fatally shot on Chicago’s South Side in 1999, just 12 blocks away from where Emmons’s friend was shot.

“At the time, I was fighting for gun violence prevention,” Emmons said in an interview. “And then it happened to me.”

Since he formally launched his congressional bid to represent Illinois’s 1st District in February, Emmons has been highlighting the ways gun violence is linked to the other issues that impact Chicagoans in his district, like lack of access to job training and mental health care. On Thursday, he released his first campaign video, which features activist Ady Barkan testifying before Congress on Medicare for All and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announcing plans for a Green New Deal — policies that Emmons supports.


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