We saw it first in San Francisco when Chesa Boudin ran for district attorney. He won and is the son of two domestic terrorists who were imprisoned. His father is still in prison. His mother turned him over to two other domestic terrorists to be raised — Bill Ayres and Bernadine Dohrn. Now we see a similar thing in Illinois.
Ameena Matthews is the daughter of domestic terrorist Jeff Fort and is a Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in Illinois’ 1st Congressional District. She is going up against Bobby Rush and others. She won’t win this one in all likelihood, but she has a big future in the Democrat Party, no doubt.
Matthews is known for her work as a violence interrupter for the Chicago-based nonprofit formerly known as CeaseFire, now called Cure Violence, and was featured in the documentary The Interrupters about her work. She is the CEO of Pause For Peace, an anti-violence organization in Chicago.
She said she’s running because Rush, a Democrat, has failed to support bills that enhance public safety, support criminal justice reform and protect women’s rights.
“For maybe about at least about 15 years I was consciously watching our community just go down rapidly,” Matthews said. “He left the first district for dead.”
Rush did not respond to requests for comment.
Matthews’ own history is marked by violence. Her father is Jeff Fort, a co-founder of the Black P. Stones gang and founder of El Rukn. He is serving 168 years in prison for agreeing to commit domestic terrorism in exchange for $2.5 million from Libya. Matthews, too, was a gang member. She has said publicly that her children and her Muslim faith pulled her off the streets and guided her toward her peace work.
If she’s elected, Matthews plans to tackle improving public safety and eliminating food deserts. She also vows to work on improving funding for and management of public schools, and re-envisioning schools as safe zones for youth. Matthews also said she would fight for women’s rights, particularly for equal pay.
“I know with my experience and my compassion and my foresight with this community needs and and I know what it takes. It takes the people. And we will build it back up together,” she said.
Rush, who has held the office since 1993, stirred up political trouble during Chicago’s mayoral campaign earlier this year by saying that if Lori Lightfoot was elected, she would have “the blood of the next young black man or black woman who is killed by the police” on her hands. She was elected. He apologized earlier this month.
Rush also is the only lawmaker who opposed a U.S. House resolution condemning Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa in January, for making racist remarks, saying the measure did not go far enough. The South Side lawmaker pushed for full censure instead. He is a former Black Panther whose family also has had brushes with the law. In 2008, his son, Jeffrey, was convicted of official misconduct after pleading guilty to having sex with female inmates at an Aurora halfway house where he worked.
Matthews announced her candidacy Thursday night in front of the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago. She was flanked by campaign manager La’Shawn Littrice and public relations director Tio Hardiman. Hardiman was Matthews’ boss at CeaseFire.
District 1 includes all or parts of Alsip, Blue Island, Calumet Park, Chicago’s South Side, Country Club Hills, Crestwood, Dixmoor, Elwood, Evergreen Park, Frankfort, Frankfort Square, Harvey, Manhattan, Markham, Merrionette Park, Midlothian, Mokena, New Lenox, Oak Forest, Oak Lawn, Orland Hills, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Posen, Riverdale, Robbins, Tinley Park and Worth. The Matthews headquarters is in Tinley Park.