South Shore uses grassroots effort to prevent shootings over violent 4th of July weekend

Chicago Police Superintendent Brown praises officers, criticizes courts

Michelle Gallardo Image
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
EMBED <>More Videos

Dubbed Peace Over East, the effort targeted those most likely to either engage in or fall victim to gun violence by giving them something else to do.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- July 4th was Chicago's most violent weekend so far this year, with over 100 people shot, 18 killed.

In the city's South Shore neighborhood, it was a different story, as grassroots efforts managed to stave off the worst of it.

"No homicides on the Fourth of July weekend, and I do want to add on the first two nights -- on the Friday night and Saturday on 4th of July weekend, we have absolutely no shootings," said William Calloway with Christianaire.

WATCH: CPD supt. speaks after 100 shot this weekend

Dubbed Peace Over East, the effort targeted those most likely to either engage in or fall victim to gun violence by giving them something else to do.

The program is designed for kids, like 15-year-old Keyomontae, who is still recovering after being shot in a drive-by that injured five and killed one on 71st Street and Clyde ten days ago.

RELATED: Chicago anti-violence events hope to encourage peace 4th of July weekend

"I don't want this to happen again because it could have been worse. It could have been death," Keyomontae said.

On Saturday, Keyomontae was one of 15 at-risk youth employed to help out at a holiday celebration in Hasan Park. There were other more targeted efforts as well.

"One of the young rappers in the neighborhood, he was going to shoot a video in the neighborhood and because of the ongoing conflict, I had him move the video shoot from the neighborhood where it would be open to potential violence to another neighborhood," said Arthur Reed with Second Change Initiative.

Political fallout follows violent holiday weekend

Known as violence interrupters, Calloway and Reed said these are strategies that can only come from those with personal relationships, and in some cases, shared experiences. Reed, himself, was a gang leader in South Shore during his younger years.

"I was a product of a gang, not because I sought out a gang but that's what was already there, so I became a product of that environment and the only way we can defeat that is to change that narrative," he said. "You don't have to be part of a gang. We have options for you."

City funding for violence prevention programs increased significantly this year to $36 million, but activists said more is needed to ensure programs like these can take place every weekend and not just on July 4.