Chicago's new top cop attends anti-violence march

June 18, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The message of Saturday's march centered on three themes: keeping kids busy this summer, getting parents and neighbors more involved, and improving relations between police and the community.

"This is great for the young people because it's giving them an example by marching and standing up for what's right," said march participant Tyrone Triplett.

"They're very impressionable, and now all they see is what's going on in the streets. But if you give them options and alternatives, then that might help the situation," said march participant Damon Williams.

Some marchers at Saturday's anti-violence demonstration drew comparisons between this struggle and that of a previous generation.

"We believe in the old traditions of the civil rights movement -- folks who took it to the streets to let people know that we believe in our community," said 7th Ward Alderman Sandi Jackson.

New Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy was also among the marchers, and during the event, community members thanked beat officers for their work. It's all part of an effort to foster more cooperation between police and the neighborhoods they serve.

"We can reduce crime, we can knock down shootings, we can knock down murders, we can knock down robberies. But nobody's ever cured crime," McCarthy said. "The only way that can actually happen is with the participation and the moral authority of the community standing up and turning the lives of these kids who are committing the crime around."

Despite a rash of recent shootings, organizers at another anti-violence rally on the West Side said there are signs of hope.

"For the first time in the city of Chicago, if we can get homicides under 400 this year, we're going to claim a victory right now, is that right? We're going to claim a victory, OK," said Tio Hardiman with CeaseFire Illinois.

"Chicago is not a bad place. There's just some bad folks that are here, and the bad sometimes tries to outshine the good, but we're not going to let that happen," said 37th Ward Alderman Emma Mitts.

The group CeaseFire is hosting events all week around the city including barbecues and sports tournaments – the idea is that if kids have options, they're less likely to get in trouble.

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