Chicago students aim to improve relationship with cops on basketball court

ByWill Jones WLS logo
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Students aim to change relationship with cops
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Students from Peace Education Coalition High School took to the court to play some Chicago police officers from the 9th District.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A group of high school students in the Back of the Yards neighborhood wanted to improve their relationship with police, so they started a campaign called "Shooting Hoops, Not Guns."

On Thursday afternoon, students from Peace Education Coalition High School, an alternative school in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, took to the court to play some Chicago police officers from the 9th District.

"They were trash talking us before we came out. They said they were going to take it to us, and they are doing it," said Cmdr. Dan Godsel.

"It ain't that hard. We got to keep on defense, just keep our team together," said Shawn Reed, a student.

"I got the stamina, I just don't have the moves. I am not much of a basketball player," Cmdr. Godsel said.

Two groups that are too often at odds on the streets played together in the Port Ministries gym thanks to the student-led campaign.

"Coming from two groups that are always heavily stereotyped, I just think it was awesome for them to get together," said Stormie McNeal, a teacher.

"We are having a great time. It's fun, they are having fun," said Cmdr. Godsel.

"They ain't what everybody think they is. All police ain't bad," Reed said.

It's a lesson learned on the court that police hope will help improve community relations and bring down the city's surging crime rate.

"That they can trust one another, that they can rely on one another. We're here to support each other. We need the police and the police need us," said Dajuanda Fairley-Hall, a school counselor.

Although police took home a win, they all walk away winners on and off the court.

"The police won this time, but they did tell me that they were open to more of these events - maybe a rematch I'm sure!" Fairley-Hall said.