Community reacts to teen shooting

February 23, 2009 3:30:03 PM PST
The South Chicago community is on edge from last Friday's shooting of 3 teenagers and residents are coming together to look for solutions on how to break the cycle of violence.The teens are killed by an assault weapon.

Chicago police continue to investigate the shootings. It's believed there were several assailants and one assault weapon.

Those who live in work in the community hope the incident will help get them attention and resources to prevent such tragedies.

It's a typical day on the streets of the South Chicago community. The kids just got out of school and some residents wonder what will happen next.

"It's bad. I mean the stuff that actually makes it to the news it is really bad, but there's a lot of stuff that happens that never even gets on the news," said Keya Graves, South Chicago resident.

Last week, three teenagers - Kendrick Pitts, 17, Raheem Washington, 15, and Johnny Edwards, 13 - were killed by an assault weapon.

Edwards was a student at Arnold Mireles Academy, named after activist Arnold Mireles who was killed in 1997. Mireles helped residents at Centro Comunitario Juan Diego, a non-profit organization on Commercial Avenue.

On Monday, workers and volunteers - many with personal experience with violence - discuss the shootings and how to help young people in the community.

"There's not any activities for the young kids or teenagers or youths," said Marta Perea of Centro Comunitario Juan Diego.

"These kids are seeing more violence than somebody in Iraq. You know, they're seeing bodies laying on the street, you know? And what help is coming to them in where are the counselors? Where's the concern?" said Robert Garcia, Centro Comunitario Juan Diego.

Nora Coronado is the mother of three children. One of her son's was assaulted last year.

"I am afraid because every day is a lot of violence in the community," said Coronado.

Centro Comunitario offers after school tutoring and some activities for young people. But organizers here say they are limited due to funding. They say the children need help and so do they trying to show kids a way out of the violence.

Those at Centro Comunitario say there are few organizations working on the solution. Organizers say they wish they had more room and the ability to hire more staff. As it is many of the programs are run by volunteers.