Activists, police combat violence on West Side

July 19, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Across town, a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother were critically injured in a shooting on the city's South Side.

As emergency crews responded to one shooting, grieving relatives on the West Side join activists one day after 19-year-old Alexander Mayo was shot near 13th and Avers.

It is a familiar strategy among anti-violence activists. In the aftermath of a killing, they march through the neighborhood calling for peace and hoping to stop retaliatory violence.

"If you met him you would love him," said Jereka Taylor, victim's cousin.

Activists with Ceasefire say their methods have been successful in limiting violence in many neighborhoods. And Chicago police say their strategies have helped lower the homicide rate 26 percent so far this year.

Nevertheless, they are starting a new experimental strategy: delivering letters to a small group of young people they believe are most likely targets of future violence.

The list of 400 Chicagoans was developed by a Yale professor who studied murders on Chicago's West Side.

He found those involved in previous gun violence were 4 times more likely to be involved again. And those arrested with a gun were twice as likely to be targets.

So police are warning them before it's too late.

"We're telling them they are likely to be a victim, get out of the network they're in," said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

The superintendent says the letters also come with a warning: if they are arrested again, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

"If the police got a strategy, why not? If it's gonna stop somebody else from getting killed," said Rev. Robin Hood, Ceasefire.

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