Deadly week yields calls to end gun violence

June 21, 2008 4:05:04 PM PDT
Following a week during which four Chicago teens were shot, a renewed call arose Saturday to 'stop the violence.'Another week, another Chicago child has been laid to rest. Any attempt to slow the wave of violence among young people in Chicago must take several approaches, not only diffusing tensions, but also providing alternatives. That's the reason a peace festival was planned for Saturday, after a deadly week in the city. Three of the gunned down teens have died. Family members and friends attended a funeral for one of those victims Saturday morning.

The tears flowed freely as friends and family said farewell to 14-year-old Ulysses Simmons, also known as "Lis" to loved ones.

"It's crazy how they kill him for no reason," said Jalisa Thurston, a friend of the victim.

Some say there was a reason, but it just wasn't a good one. According to friends, someone stole the teen's bike. He went to get it back, and a short time later, he was dead.

"The last words he was saying was 'I can't wait to go to 8th grade,'" said another friend Carla Cherry.

"It's very sad in this day kids can't go outside and just be kids. To be killed over a bike, if that's the case, that's a sad situation," said Beverly Queen-Thomas, a teacher at Beasley Academic Center.

A group of Chicago area pastors gathered Saturday in the 5900 block of South Peoria, hoping to have an impact on that sad situation by allowing kids to be kids. First, they said, parents must regain control. They also said pastors could play a part too, by opening the doors of their churches and taking nonviolent ministries to the streets.

"If Jesus was for peace, Ghandi was for peace, King was for peace. We're for peace as well," said Pastor Pervis Thomas of the New Canaan Land M.B. Church.

"The tools of violence must be turned into the tools of learning. Let's get the books, the notepads and pencils for them and stop this nonsense," community activist Brian Searles said.

The pastors called for a month of nonviolence in the city. They admitted it was a loft goal but said solutions must start somewhere.


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