Chicago gun violence victims' families taking message to Washington

September 13, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Diane Latiker looks at some of the 374 bricks in the memorial she has set up as part of her Kids Off the Block organization. She started it in 2007 after 16-year-old Blair Holt was killed, and it continues through the death earlier this year of Hadiya Pendleton. There have been hundreds more killed whose bricks have not yet been added. She wants to tell that story to Congress.

"I'm going to Washington to be an advocate, to talk to legislators about urban violence," said Diane Latiker, Kids Off the Block.

Joy McCormack knows about that violence first hand. Her son Frankie Valencia was a senior at DePaul, nominated to be a White House intern, when a gunman who was recorded by security camera shot and killed him outside a party. She is also going to Washington.

"As a mom I'm always going to be devastated by this experience. But I'm here. The question is, what am I going to do with this," said Joy McCormack, victim's mother.

McCormack started a non-profit called Citizens for Change to support families who have lost loved ones to violence. She is also one of nearly a dozen families invited by 2nd District Rep. Robin Kelly next week to go to Washington and talk to Congress about urban violence in Chicago.

We are losing lives all too often, and we are losing innocent lives, we're losing next generation, the next congresswoman, the next president, the next newscaster. We have to put a stop to it," said U.S. Rep. Kelly.

It is a concern shared by many Chicagoans. On the South Side Friday, Congressman Danny Davis holds a stop the violence rally, aimed at getting police and neighbors together. He will meet with some of the families next week.

"We look forward to people coming to share with us all the time, and we look forward to next week," said U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, 7th District.

Rep. Kelly is sponsoring two bills in Congress aimed at gun safety. Neither is expected to be up for debate next week, but she's hoping the victims will be able to meet with individual Congress members to share their stories.

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