North Lawndale Walk for Peace aims to offer Chicago’s youth alternative to gun violence

CHICAGO (WLS) – North Lawndale residents, like Lakena Young, are ready to hit the streets again after two mass shootings rocking their West Side neighborhood this week.

“My heart is heavy because I have children, grandchildren and my thing is I want peace,” Young said.

Walk For Peace Friday is organized by several churches, as well as several communities and anti-violence groups, who have a message for Chicago’s youth.

“Our main focus is not condemnation and condemnation, but really trying to say, ‘We’re here for you. We want to offer you an alternative,'” Father Larry Dowling of the Catholic Church of St. Agatha said.

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Chicago’s top police officers and Chicago police commanding officers are also strolling the streets of North Lawndale.

“Now, violent offenders are worried if any of these people are going to tell them,” said Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown.

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The attempt comes just days after 15-year-old Damarion Benson was killed and several others wounded in the first of two mass shootings in the neighborhood on Wednesday night.

Moments after shots were fired at Douglas Avenue and Christiana Avenue, a second shooting occurred in the streets at Douglas Avenue and Ridgeway Avenue as a crowd gathered outside a church to funeral for a young man killed earlier this month.

“I came today to confirm his identity. I am numb. I remain calm. I still don’t believe it,” said Brittany, Benson’s mother, who must now say goodbye to her son. is about to start high school. “He’s got a sense of humour. He’s funny. Talented.”

The mother-of-three has an ugly appearance and she trusts her son to always be there to help her.

“I was born with glaucoma. He was my eyes. If I needed him to scan for me, he would do it… sometimes he didn’t want to but he would. He would. will read my mail to me,” she said.

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Now, she’s increasingly involved in pushing for more police and tougher penalties, especially for juvenile offenders.

Pastor Phil Jackson, Founder and CEO of the Fire House Community Arts Center, said the walk for peace is an opportunity for the community to embrace youth in the neighborhood in a different way in their efforts. force to break the cycle of violence.

“Our walk today is about a degree of purpose and relationship with people. We’ve done a lot of walks about peace and justice, but this is the walk we’ve taken. really need to have rubber meet the road, have real conversations with people,” Jackson said.

To date, nearly 100 children under the age of 15 have been shot in Chicago.

Supporters said the march was not only to remember the victims of the violence, but also to make the community safer.

“I need the march to be an icebreaker and move on – let’s stay tuned. What are the next steps? How can we be more present? How do we show up? How for us to be part of our neighborhood,” said Neighborhood resident Derrick White, who hopes the walk will make a real difference.

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Huynh Nguyen

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