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November , 2018
Monday

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Smith’s dad: “End Code of Silence”

By Chinta Strausberg

With a $13,500 “bounty” on the head of the person who killed 9-year-old Antonio Smith, Father Michael L.Pfleger Thursday called on the community to help in identifying the shooter he said executed the child whose body was found in a backyard of a building located in the 1200 block of 71st Street in the Grand Crossing area.

Ironically,  the scene of the crime was 71st Street that bears the honorary name of Emmett Till,the 14-year-old young man from Chicago who was kidnapped from his grandfather’s Money, Mississippi home in the middle of the night by several white men, beaten, shot for allegedly whistling at one of their wives. They dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River. His murder sparked the Civil Rights movement.

Father Pfleger, who said they gathered to express their “outrage” over the murder of Smith and that he wants a “movement” to turn in the killers who are preying on children, announced that the reward for the arrest of the murderer has increased to $13,500 from $6,000. Saint Sabina donated $5,000, Pastor Ira Acree, $2,000, Pastor Cory Brooks, $5000, community activist Andrew Holmes gave $1,000, Bamani Obadele donated $500, “Let’s be clear,” Pfleger said, “It’s a bounty.”

“Turn in who ever did this. Who ever made this hit and decided you were going to use a 9-year-old boy as a pawn; well when you struck him, you struck every one of us and you’ll have to deal with every one of us,” Pfleger.

At the press conference, Father Pfleger was joined by: Brandi Murry, the mother of Antonio Smith, his father, Kawada Hodges, Wilma Walker, the aunt of Smith and her nephew, Cody Neusom, a cousin of Smith, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), Pastor Ira Acree from Greater St. John Bible Church, activists Andrew Holmes and Camiella D. Williams, Officer Richard Wooten, Rev. Flynn Rush, the son of Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-1st),  Dawn Valenta, had her arm around Darien Winberly, who held up a sign saying, “I am Antonio Smith,” and many others.

Reflecting on his son’s murder, Hodges urged people to “speak up because that same person…could victimize you and your kids. Silence is what’s killing everybody. To not say you may as well held the gun on him, may have supplied the bullet” if they remain silent. “Hodges said the death of his son “hurts.”

Hairston called the murder of Smith “senseless. It makes no sense that we will not talk. It makes no sense that we don’t put the guns down…. It makes no sense to talk about it amongst our neighbors and exclude the police…. I am asking you…if you have information ”to come forward with the name of the shooter, said Hairston.

Saying they should be angry about the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police, Pfleger added, “We must be just as outraged at what happened to Antonio Smith here in Chicago on 71st Street because at the end of the day, it’s the same thing a young black boy dead because of somebody murdered him and we want you.”

“You cannot kill children….If you kill a child, you are a terrorist in our neighborhood…. We want you locked up because if you would kill a 9-year-old, you’ll kill anybody, anytime, anywhere. You have no boundaries. You have no soul,” said Pfleger. He said someone knows you shot Smith and urged them to turn him in.

While holding the hand of Smith’s mother, her niece, Dorothy Woods, said she is hurting. “It’s not a time to be angry and bitter…. I pray for the person who did this,” she said calling for people to pray for the children and for peace.

Breaking down in tears, Wilma Walker, the aunt of Smith and her nephew, Cody Neusom, 22, a cousin of Smith, told this reporter Smith was “a happy boy” whose nickname was “Hamburger” because that was his favorite food.  “He was a nice, playful kid…nothing derogatory about him. I’m more mad than sad because somebody knows who did this and nobody talks. It’s like the code of the streets. People ought to talk so this family can get some justice.”

Walker said, “My heart is broken. I’m angry. If you knew him, he was so full of life. He was such a playful, caring boy who loved his mother deeply. He was not out here in the streets in no gang. Our family is very close. When they took him away, they shattered this family. No matter how many babies be born in this family…,” she said crying, “He can never be replaced.”

Obadele, a father of five, said,  “This child was executed. No one should sleep at night in their bed knowing that the killer of this child is out here on the streets…. I’ll walk the streets day and night, but the person who did this ought to be found.”

After reading a condolence from Baltimore Guardian Angels, Holmes called the shooter “dysfunctional.” “If  anyone knows of anybody who took part of this modern day execution,” turn them in.

Pastor Acree called the murder of Smith “a travesty…an execution…. When I heard the manner in which this kid was killed, it brought tears to my eyes.” Acree said he and other ministers were going to get a van and go down to Ferguson, MO to protest the murder of Michael Brown by a policemen. However, after Smith’s death he said, “It’s a better investment to stay at home…and get this criminal off the streets. We want to make sure that people see there is outrage across the city…one city bleeding.”

Father Pfleger led scores of supporters throughout the neighborhood passing out flyers that announced the reward for the arrest of Smith’s killer.

Accompanying him was Rush, assistant pastor of Beloved Community Christian Church of God in Christ, who lost his brother, Huey Rich, 29, to gun violence in 1999, said, “I’m tired of this senseless killing. It’s horrendous. It’s time for a change for everyone to put the guns down….”

At the end of the press conference, a few friends and family members went over to the spot where young Smith was shot. They made a circle and prayed others just stared at the ground that has been adorned by flowers and flower pots, white balloons that were later released.

Sgt. Shawn McGavock, a detective with the Chicago Police Department, also urged people to identify the killer and turn him in. He urged them to call: 312.757.8380 with any tips.
Turn in who ever did this. Who ever made this hit and decided  you were going to use a 9-year-old boy as a pawn; well when you struck him, you struck every one of us and you’ll have to deal with every one of us,” Pfleger. To the right, Dorothy Woods, the aunt of the slain boy, wipes the face of his mother who cried throughout the press conference held late Thursday in the 1200 block of 71st St.  (All photos by Chinta Strausberg)Turn in who ever did this. Who ever made this hit and decided you were going to use a 9-year-old boy as a pawn; well when you struck him, you struck every one of us and you’ll have to deal with every one of us,” Pfleger. To the right, Dorothy Woods, the aunt of the slain boy, wipes the face of his mother who cried throughout the press conference held late Thursday in the 1200 block of 71st St. (Photo by Chinta Strausberg)

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

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