'We're trying to make a change': Chicago youth promote peace, aim to combat gun violence across city

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Sunday, June 12, 2022
'We're trying to make a change': Chicago youth promote peace, aim to combat gun violence across city
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More than two dozen organizations that mentor young men of color are coming together to combat gun violence in Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More than two dozen organizations that mentor young men of color are coming together to combat gun violence.

It's an issue that weighs very heavy on the hearts of the teens who are trying to make a difference.

"It starts with you, it starts with me, with all of us working together. No more violence," said Vondale Singleton with Champs Male Mentoring Program.

It's that message that's bringing dozens of anti-violence groups and teens together to form the new "brilliance and excellence movement."

"We are in downtown Chicago today to simply march around with our flags, with our T-shirts, with our postcards to simply promote the message of peace, unity and most of all no violence," said Jermaine Anderson, executive director of I AM A GENTLEMAN, INC.

Their goal is to showcase, highlight and uplift young men of color.

RELATED: March for Our Lives 2022: Chicago rally pushes for more gun control after recent mass shootings

"We don't need no more violence, we need to come together as a group to prove that there's more to Black people, there's more living in Chicago. We don't necessarily need to come out here and shoot each other," said 15-year-old Jalyn Pressley.

"I've really seen violence in our schools and across the South Side of Chicago, so here today, I'm just trying to bring awareness," added fellow 15-year-old Adeeb Borden.

The group marched in the South Loop Saturday, joining a thousand of others in Grant Park for the Race Against Gun Violence.

Their movement was created after the Champs Male Mentoring Program lost member Seandell Holiday last month when hundreds of teens descended upon at Millennium Park and things turned violent.

"I just lost a friend and I know he'd be wanting me to be doing the same, so I feel like if he sees me doing this, he's going to be happy and he's going to know that we're trying to make a change in the community," said 14-year-old Sam Sadeen Jones.

"I think it's completely necessary that we do this because most people think -- from other states -- people think people in Chicago, all they do is shoot but I want people to know that we're more than that," added 13-year-old Joshua Hughey.

Last month, Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a new city-wide curfew after that now requires teens 17 and under to be accompanied by an adult after 10 p.m. Thursday through Sundays.

RELATED: Chicago youth speak out against Millennium Park curfew: 'Downtown was our outlet'

"Our hopes throughout the summer is that we have no more blood slain, that there's no more violence, that the guns are put down," said Damien Howard, director of education initiatives with Together Chicago.

This group said they plan to continue taking to the streets of Chicago throughout the summer, making their message heard until something changes.