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COOK COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE PARTNERS WITH LIBERTY UNITED TO BENEFIT GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION PROGRAMS IN CHICAGO

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Thursday, October 16, 2014Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart today announced a partnership with entrepreneur Peter Thum and his company Liberty United (www.libertyunited.com), a New York-based social venture that transforms illegal guns and bullets into jewelry to benefit anti-violence organizations across the country. Profits from sales of Liberty United jewelry made using material from repurposed illegal guns collected from Cook County will benefit local not-profits fighting gun violence. The first organization to receive funds will be Children’s Home + Aid (CHA), a Chicago-based non-profit that works to support at-risk youth in Chicago.

“Our gun violence epidemic is destroying communities and setting back an entire generation of young Chicagoans,” said Sheriff Dart. “With this partnership, we’re taking guns that would otherwise be incinerated and turning them into something beautiful, while benefiting a local organization working on the front lines to stop the bloodshed.”
Once guns within the Sheriff’s custody are no longer needed for investigative or legal purposes, judges typically order their destruction. Moving forward, guns within the Sheriff’s Police inventory ordered for destruction will be broken apart, rendered inoperable and sent to Liberty United to be manufactured into their unique brand of world-class jewelry and art.

“Liberty United’s mission is to stop gun violence in the U.S. by turning guns into funding for programs to stop gun violence, actually transforming illegal guns and into wearable art that raises awareness, action and funding for this purpose,” said Thum. “We are excited about this new partnership with Sheriff Dart, who has demonstrated a lasting commitment to the people and organizations working with his office to make Chicago and its surrounding communities a safer place to live.”

The proceeds generated from jewelry sales will benefit Cook County non-profit programs working to stop gun violence. The first grant will support Children’s Home + Aid work with youth in Englewood, which aims to create new opportunities and reduce gun violence risk factors in the lives of children.

In response to the well-publicized gun violence in Chicago this past summer, Sheriff Dart directed Cook County Sheriff’s Police units to embark on an enhanced presence in Chicago and surgically address blighted areas beset by gun violence. In just six weeks, 112 guns were recovered during this six-week initiative based on arrestee debriefings, citizen tips and gang intelligence coming out of Cook County Jail, which Sheriff Dart also oversees.

Additionally, in 2013 Sheriff Dart established the Sheriff’s Gun Suppression Unit, which works county-wide to recover illegal guns off the street and from criminals who have had their gun privileges revoked by the State of Illinois. The unit has recovered 665 firearms in less than two years. Many of guns recovered from the work of the Gun Suppression Unit and the Sheriff’s Police Chicago Initiative have since been court-ordered for destruction and will soon be transformed into jewelry and art by Liberty United.

Liberty United, which launched in June 2013, was founded by Peter Thum and his wife, actress Cara Buono. The venture donates 20 to 25 percent of its profits to fund programs to reduce gun violence in the U.S. When purchasing an item from Liberty United’s website, customers may select Cook County as the beneficiary community, earmarking profits from their purchase directly for Chicago-based partner organizations. Current partner cities include Syracuse and Newburgh, New York, as well as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Liberty United aims to expand to additional partner cities in the future.

About Liberty United

Liberty United is a humanitarian venture created by Peter Thum and his wife, actress Cara Buono. Peter Thum also is the co-founder and CEO of Fonderie 47, which creates jewelry, timepieces and artworks from AK47s to fund disarmament in Africa. Fonderie 47 has destroyed more than 40,000 assault rifles in Africa. Thum also founded Ethos Water, which was acquired by Starbucks, and served as Vice President of Starbucks Corporation and Director of the Starbucks Foundation. Ethos Water has donated more than $7 million and has helped approximately half a million people around the world gain access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene education. He has founded and overseen various not-for-profit organizations dedicated to solving global crises. He previously worked at McKinsey & Company.

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