Family, friends of E2 nightclub victims seek memorial 21 years after deadly South Side stampede

21 people killed in stampede on Feb. 17, 2003

ByTre Ward and ABC7 Digital Team WLS logo
Sunday, February 18, 2024
E2 nightclub victims' families, friends seek memorial 21 years later
The victims of the E2 nightclub, Chicago stampede were remembered with a vigil at 2347 South Michigan Avenue on Saturday, 21 years after tragedy.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- For some families, it was their first time coming to the former E2 nightclub, now a vacant building, with renewed calls to turn this location into a memorial for the 21 people who died 21 years ago on Saturday.

Despite not being old enough to remember, Aniya Myers will never forget the pain of losing her father, Antonio Myers, weeks after being born.

"I don't know why he was taken away from me," Aniya said. "My whole life, I've never been here, and it's just really hard. I don't remember his voice. I don't remember any core memories that I'm supposed to have."

Anjenita Myers, Antonio's sister, also spoke at Saturday's vigil.

"My other brother he told us that he couldn't revive his brother. How devastating is that? His brother stood right next to him and gave him CPR, and he could not revive him. So, those are the thoughts that go through my mind as I stepped on this property today," Anjenita said.

Prayer outside the vacant building on Saturday marked the 21st anniversary of the deadly stampede at the E2 nightclub, where 21 people died.

More than 1,000 people were gathered in the second-floor club, designed to hold 240. When pepper spray was used to break up a fight, club-goers ran.

Hundreds of people rushed to the only exit, creating a stampede that jammed the stairwell. Twenty-one people died after they became trapped and were crushed in the stairwell.

RELATED: Families renew call for memorial at E2 nightclub vigil 20 years after tragedy

Months before the catastrophe, a court order was issued closing the club for building violations.

E2's owners, Calvin Hollin, Jr. and and Dwain Kyles, were convicted of criminal contempt for violating that order but were cleared of involuntary manslaughter charges.

They blamed police for a botched response, which the city denied.

Some victims' children are now adults.

"Having my mom not around, it's like a lot of loss pieces without her," said Laneisha Crawford, the daughter of stampede victim Demetricta Carwell.

"And, I just wish she was here to see that I want to make her proud," said Shapara Hicks, the daughter of LaTorya McGraw, another victim.

While a moment of silence ended Saturday's gathering, demands to turn the vacant building into a memorial for the victims were heard loud and clear.

"It should be something here. Like I said, 21 people died that night and none of them deserved it," Aniya said.

"Every single year we're standing in front of a doorway, in front of a building that for 21 years has not been occupied, and it's obvious that it's not going to be occupied because if it is, we're going to be here protesting this building," said Dawn Valenti, a friend of stampede victim Michael Wilson.