Display of crosses for gun violence victims stirs debate in Englewood

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A display of 44 crosses that stand in Chicago Englewood's community has stirred an emotional debate. (WLS)

A display of 44 crosses that stand in Chicago Englewood's community has stirred an emotional debate.

Each represents a victim of gun violence in the city. Some residents believe the crosses send a negative message about their neighborhood.

Tuesday began with a delivery from a retired suburban master carpenter. Greg Zanis grew up in the Austin neighborhood and now makes crosses to honor the victims of Chicago violence.

A few weeks ago he began to set them on a vacant lot in Englewood he says he was given.

"I've been all around the country putting up crosses and what it really amounts to is shame on me for not doing my own city," said Zanis of Crosses for Losses.

But a former Englewood resident didn't want to see the crosses and threatened to remove them.

"Nobody wants to see it. I agree with her. I don't want to see it," Zanis said.

The threat touched a nerve for some victims' relatives.

"What they should is put them everywhere. Take them down there on that corner. Take them over east somewhere. Take them over west. Take them around so they can see that this is what's happening," said Rochetta Tyler, mother of Michelle Pearson.

Later in the day, the woman who made the comments arrived on the 5500-block of South Bishop Street.

Tamar Manasseh said she won't remove the crosses and she understands, now, what they mean to grieving relatives. She hopes this emotional disagreement opens dialogue for real solutions to reduce violence.

Manasseh also wanted to show Zanis a house across the street where she grew up and share why the crosses are painful to see.

"My cousin was killed right there at that fire hydrant. Right there. My aunt was shot on that porch. So this is a very emotional issue for all of us. I completely I understand where you are coming from," Manasseh said.

Many of the families decided to gather at the display Tuesday. They wanted to make sure no one would move the crosses and now no one is saying that they are going to do that.

The disagreement ended with an agreement and they plan to meet to decide some action they can take together so that more families do not have to visit the crosses.
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newschicago violencememorialEnglewoodChicago
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