Police supt. joins anti-violence march

May 30, 2009 5:05:36 PM PDT
Chicago police Supt. Jody Weis joined a community march Saturday to help stop the violence. That march was one of many happening in the city, all to deliver the message of nonviolence before school lets out and summer heat settles in.In what has increasingly become a regular part of summer, hundreds of parents and children came out to march against street violence. Mostly from Northwest Middle School, the families were joined by several community activists and leaders, including Weis.

Also present was a group of parents who have lost children to gun violence.

"The day I heard my son got shot, it's incredible. You don't know what to do. But for me, as a parent, I had to watch my son for 14 hours before he died. I tell everyone I meet, 'You don't want to go through that,'" parent Willy Williams said.

The predominant theme Saturday was getting parents involved in their children's safety. Police pointed to a 25th District program where officers round up children who are out after curfew every Friday, and take them to a school auditorium to wait until their parents come to pick them up.

"Children have to understand they have a curfew and have to be home by a certain time. Parents, it is your responsibility to make sure we protect them," said Cmdr. Robert Lopez of the 25th District police department.

So far this year, the numbers are encouraging. The overall homicide rate is down 15 percent. Clouding that decrease, however, is the number of Chicago public school students killed. Currently at 39, the number is already higher than for all of the year 2008.

"We get involved from the suppression aspect. We get involved from the law enforcement aspect, but the real solution is prevention, and that starts with education," said Weis.

Education as a way to prevent gun violence was the focus of another rally Saturday in Chicago's Roseland neighborhood. At that event, mentors like architect Brooke Henton spoke to children about the importance of going to college.

"It is important to have someone in a filed you're interested in so you can talk to them and give them some advice," Henton said.

The Chicago Police Department is expected to reveal its strategy to deal with summer gun violence sometime next week.


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