Chicagoans participate in anti-violence event

August 3, 2010 8:55:04 PM PDT
A sense of urgency marked this year's National Night Out gatherings in the Chicago area.

A string of recent high-profile shootings has left many people concerned about safety. Mayor Daley described violence on Chicago streets as the city's most immediate and pressing challenge Tuesday.

Dozens of National Night Out events took place Tuesday throughout the suburbs and city, including one in Humboldt Park.

The huge crowd in Humboldt Park may have been drawn by the food and entertainment but participants also rubbed elbows with neighbors and law enforcement officials.

"Anything we can do to build stronger and greater bonds with the community, to help build up their confidence in the police department and their trust in the police department will reap big dividends," said Supt. Jody Weis, Chicago Police.

Mayor Daley said he hopes such events make people more trusting of police and help break the code of silence that keeps witnesses of some crimes from coming forward.

"Incident after incident. A total disregard of human life. And that's what it is. I plead with people. These are your children and our children, too," said Daley.

Chicago residents who attended a National Night Out event at a park in the 5400-block of West Kinzie made a statement by just being there.

"It sends a signal out...we're safe, come on out and enjoy National Night Out for the first time in this park," said Velda Brunner, CAPS worker.

As the mayor spoke, just a couple of miles south, police responded to a shooting in which three were injured, including a 51-year-old woman shot in the leg and a man shot in the back. It was the kind of thing a group of ministers is trying to stop with their 28 Days of Peace campaign. They're got residents to sign peace pledges Tuesday night. To sign the pledge, send an email to peacepledgechicago@gmail.com

"We're looking for zero. If we have zero tolerance for everything else, we want zero tolerance for murders in this city," said Rev. Gregory Livingston, Rainbow Push Coalition.

Mayor Daley is among those who signed the pledge. Earlier in the day he offered a number of new initiatives designed to curb violence. They include more law enforcement collaboration, greater focus on a program called Predictive Policing and increased efforts to fight gun trafficking.

National Night Out events in other towns included fire department demonstrations and other interactive exhibits designed to give people a better understanding of public safety.

"There's a lot of things on TV that give a bad vibe to good things like policemen. Everything here is very informational for him. It is really good," said Rebecca Sosa, Berwyn resident.

Despite the efforts of police, the mayor said without help of residents the initiative will fail. He urged Chicago residents to step up and get involved.


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