Bronzeville residents rally for safety after boy shot

August 5, 2011 3:24:22 PM PDT
Members of Chicago's Bronzeville community rally to return safety to their neighborhood and the park where their children play.

It comes two days after 13-year-old Darius Brown was shot and killed by a stray bullet as he played basketball with his friends. Until Wednesday's shooting, children and their parents considered the South Side park where Brown was shot a safe place. Now, some community members now wonder where their children can play.

The basketball courts at Metcalf Park have been quiet since the murder of Brown.

"It's like they're giving him respect, that's why there's not a whole bunch of people up here," said neighborhood resident Keyana Washington.

On Friday, a Chicago Police Department squad car and tokens of love for the teen remain the only evidence of the violence that claimed his life as this community grieves and struggles to heal.

"I have a lot of concern about that because I'm kind of scared for my kids," said neighborhood resident Tiffany Jackson.

Police, who say they do not think Brown was the intended target of Wednesday's shooting, are working on a suspect and a motive, and released a fuzzy surveillance video of the vehicle they say might be involved.

Meanwhile, at a Chicago Public Schools Back to School rally on Friday afternoon, Brown's slaying was on the minds of parents like Bernard Kelly who expressed his concerns about the ongoing violence.

"The violence is everywhere. There is no real safe place except in school," Kelly said.

Basketball was everything for Brown who would have been an eighth grader at Holy Angels Catholic School. He played on the team there and idolized Chicago Bulls player Derrick Rose.

"You have this young man who was outside, honing his skills to become the next Derrick Rose of Chicago, and someone just cut his life short," said Chicago Bulls Team Ambassador Sidney Green.

Brown's mother and father attended a vigil for him Thursday evening, and although community activists handed out flyers and announced a reward for information in the case, neighborhood mentor Keith Coleman says more needs to be done. He's organizing a park patrol to help make the streets safe again for children.

"We've got to stop saying that's not my child. I don't care. We have to step up," Coleman said.

On Friday night, churches and community groups in that area have increased that reward for information about the person who shot and killed Brown.

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