Releasing 22 white doves as a symbol of peace on the coldest day of the year, Father Michael L. Pfleger Wednesday led more than 300 people on a â€œCall to Actionâ€ march along the Magnificent Mile to remember those killed by gun violence in 2014, to break the cycle of violence in Chicago and to say â€œAll Life Mattersâ€ and that gun violence is everybodyâ€™s problem.
Carrying multi-colored signs that read Chicago violence â€™14, 387 shot & killedâ€ and 2229 shot & wounded,â€ â€œStop The Flow of Guns, â€œ#2015nomorekiling,â€ â€œPeace,â€ and â€œBreak the Cycle of Violence,â€ the marches boarded three school buses at Saint Sabina Church, 1210 W. 78th Place, and left for the Loop shortly after 10 a.m. Others met them at the Tribune Tower.
â€œLast year in Chicago, 387 people have been murdered, 2,229 have been shot and wounded in Chicago,â€ Father Pfleger told reporters. â€œâ€™That is unacceptable. That is sick. Thatâ€™s a scandal for our city.
â€œWeâ€™re here today to remember all of those who lost their loves because itâ€™s just not numbers. Those are individuals Those are peoplesâ€™ sons..daughtersâ€¦mothersâ€¦fathersâ€¦cousins. These are our brothers and sisters in the city of Chicago. We all are 387 people last yearâ€¦not just those biological families. Chicago lost themâ€¦, and Chicago is less of a city today because of the lives we lost last year.
â€œWeâ€™re here to remember them, but weâ€™re also here to say we want to break this cycle of violence in Chicago. Chicago weâ€™re better than this. Weâ€™re better than shooting and killing. Weâ€™re better than living in fear every single day in our neighborhoods. We are a better city, and itâ€™s time to act like we say we are instead of the shooting and the killing that is going on,â€ Pfleger said.
Pfleger said he held the march downtown â€œbecause this is all of Chicagoâ€™s problemâ€¦, and weâ€™ve got to stop it. Weâ€™ve got to break the cycle. Weâ€™re calling on everybody in Chicago to do what ever we have to do to end the violenceâ€ he said includes more education, greater opportunity, â€œstop the access of gunsâ€¦stop this love affair with guns in Chicago.
â€œ Letâ€™s break this cycle. Letâ€™s create a city where our children can come to peace day in and day out, go to school, come home, sit on the porch, go to the park and not be afraid to die or to be wounded,â€ Pfleger said.
Pam Bosley, the mother of slain Terrell Bosley, 18, who was shot and killed April 4, 2006 outside of a church at 116th and Halsted, called for an end to the cycle of violence. â€œNo more shooting. No more burying our children. No more for 2015â€¦..â€
Lamar Johnson said, â€œAs the youth of this city, we are here to break the cycle of violence in Chicago. Not all youth are in Chicago are killing each other. Not all youth are out shooting, gangbanging and selling drugs. We will be the standard for the rest of our youth in the city to let our youth know you can live positive. You can increase the peace. You can live for God, and you can share love amongst our peersâ€¦
â€œWe are here to let this generation know that weâ€™re going to break the cycle in 2015 and we are going to live together in unity and love,â€ said Johnson.
Senator Kotowski told reporters that 251 young men did not reach their 30th birthday, 106th didnâ€™t reach their 20th birthday and 9 didnâ€™t make it to their 10th birthday. â€œThis is all of our problem. Twenty percent of the guns come from the suburbs. The vast majority come from other states.
â€œThey all start form a legal source and they all end up in the hands of somebody who shouldnâ€™t have the gun. We need to do a better job of protecting our children, our families and our communities from the guns that come into the communities. Itâ€™s all of our problem because we all pay for itâ€¦lost livesâ€¦lost productivityâ€¦kids canâ€™t go to college. They canâ€™t exceed their dreamsâ€¦. When somebody elseâ€™s son dies, my son diesâ€¦. Any child that dies is a child of mine,â€ the senator said.
â€œWe need to stand up not just for this moment but in the state of Illinois to make sure our children and families are protected, secure and safe and they are able to live the life that they deserve to live,â€ Kotowski said.
Tio Hardiman, executive director of the Violence Interrupters, Inc., said, “The young people are the face of violence in Chicago. We need to save more lives. Hopefully, we can strategize and bring all hands on deck (to reduce the violence) as we go into 2015.â€
Youth leader Jessica Jones prayed for peace.
Standing on the steps of the old Water Tower, Pfleger was accompanied by Lamar Johnson, who prayed, and Joy McCormick, the mother of Francisco â€œFrankieâ€ Valenica, 22, who was killed, called for an end to gun violence.
Marching Rob Nichols, who owns the doves, released the doves near the Chicago Tribune towers. Pfleger said this was symbolic of those who lost their lives and to call for peace in 2015.
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.