By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
Mothers of Slain Children, Rainbow PUSH Coalition officials and supporters last weekend called for safer parks and resources to help reduce violence in Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods.
The calls come as residents and police prepare for a spike in shootings as warm weather and the summer season approaches.
At a press conference held at PUSH headquarters, Reverend Janette Wilson, senior advisor to Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., said, “We have witnessed more shootings and murders this year than ever before in the last 20-30 years in this city. Many of them have remained unsolved.
“These shootings and murders have occurred in parks and playgrounds where our children should be free to enjoy the spring, the summer free to exercise and engage in afterschool activities,” Wilson said.
Penny Bady is the mother of Maurice Brown, Jr., 15, who was fatally shot two doors from her house on December 12, 2003 in the 4700 block of Washington. She said, “I got the phone call no parent wants to get. My son was a bright young man with a future – a freshman at Marshall High School and was on the football team. I chose to fight my pain with power and talking about gun violence. I did donate his organs. He does live on in several people. We need tougher laws on the books. It does take a community to raise our children.”
Wilson referred to Senator Mattie Hunter’s nephews who had moved from Chicago to St. Louis to escape the violence. The teenagers wanted to be with their mother last July when they were shot while sitting in a car. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the legislature, a doctor, a lawyer or whether you’re a community leader. Community activists have lost their children to violence.”
Making her case, she added, “Some of the poorest neighborhoods have the most under-resourced parks, the most underserved schools, have no recreational facilities, have high unemployment, high crime.
“As mothers, we are going to make sure that as this summer approaches, as school begins to end, we will not sit idly by and wait for something to happen
Wilson wants STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to be taught in the parks, as well as sports enrichment, character education and summer jobs.
Wilson vowed to meet with police and elected officials. “We are now going to engage in direct action to make sure these things happen.” She held another meeting on Tuesday, May 10 at PUSH.
Activist Andrew Holmes’ daughter, Tamara Sword, 32, a single mother of five, was killed last August. Holmes said, “I lost my daughter, my first born. It is so disrespectful. It gets deeper and the pain hurts when a person disrespects these mothers so much.”
Chicago Police Commander Ron Holt agreed with PUSH. “The police can and should be doing beat integrity – when police get out of the car and do foot patrol in the parks. Growing up police officers were always in the parks. I don’t see why that has changed, and it should go back to that tradition.”