Women's groups vow to fight Chicago violence

April 28, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Among them is a group of women who sent a message by marching to police headquarters Wednesday night. Their strategies: patrol the streets, improve parenting skills and mentor youth.

While politicians and law enforcement authorities debate how best to quell the violence that has become an epidemic in some Chicago neighborhoods, even talking about bringing in the National Guard, some women in those neighborhoods say they are the solution. They are getting involved in groups that aim to stop the violence and improve their communities.

Several dozen women from the community say they are trying to do what the police and other city agencies have been unable to do: bring peace to their communities.

"We have the natural instincts. We are natural nurturers, protectors. And so the women of the Deborah Movement are just taking their rightful place," said Nefra Burlock, Deborah Movement.

The women named their group after the biblical character in the Book of Judges who won battles that men refused to fight. Many are motivated because they have seen too much crime. Others have been victims themselves.

"My house was robbed. I came home. My children found it. Oh that was it. I had to do something," said Deborah Clair, Deborah Movement.

"We're taking full responsibility. These are our children out here. So we don't have a choice," said Africa Porter-Ollarvia, Deborah Movement.

Another group of mothers met earlier Wednesday in the Loop. Their mission is to help solve the many unsolved murders in the city. Calling themselves Mothers Against Murders Anonymous - or MAMA - they want to break the 'code of silence' by offering cash rewards for information that leads police to suspects.

"His 3-year-old daughter on this picture saw everything, she saw everything. She saw her daddy laying there dead and wanted to know when he was gonna get up. And so I need to do something so my son wouldn't die in vain," said Barbara Fleming who lost her son to violence.

The group is trying to raise $250,000 to fund the project.

Meanwhile, the Deborah Project also wants to work with police. They marched to police headquarters Wednesday night where they were met at the door. The group left a letter addressed to Police superintendent Jody Weis.

In the coming weeks the movement plans to meet with a group of girls who were recently involved in a violent fight at an elementary school. They also have plans for a big rally on Mother's Day.

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