‘Our children deserve to have a safe summer’

By Joyce Duriga
Sunday, June 26, 2016

‘Our children deserve to have a safe summer’

Pam Bosley, co-founder of Purpose Over Pain, speaks to participants during a peace rally and march to on June 17 at St. Sabina Church, 1210 West 78th Place. Bosley and other members of her group read off the names and ages of the more than 100 people under 20 who have died because of gun violence in Chicago since June 2015. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
An estimated 1,000 people turned out for the rally and to participate in the parish's first peace march. The community will come together to march for peace every Friday during the summer. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Samuel Williams Jr. leads a youth choir in song prior to the start of a rally. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Father Michael Pfleger speaks at the rally. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is on his left. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
A young boy listens to speakers. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Participants start off on the march from St. Sabina. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Participants walk through the Auburn Gresham neighborhood following the rally. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Participants cheer during the peace rally and march, which was organized by Father Michael Pfleger. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)

George Anderson, age 17. Christian Bandemear, age 16. Tyshawn Lee, age 9. Amari Brown, age 7. These are just four of the more than 100 names of children and young people under 20 who have died as a result of gun violence in Chicago since June 2015. Their names were read on the steps of St. Sabina Church, 1210 W. 78th Place, on June 17 during the parish’s end-of-the-school-year rally and peace march.

Mothers who lost children to gun violence read the names and ages before an estimated crowd of more than a thousand. The mothers were from Purpose Over Pain, a group formed in 2007 by several Chicago- area parents who lost their children to gun violence.

St. Sabina’s pastor, Father Michael Pfleger led the annual event in the city’s Auburn-Gresham community, which included local elected officials, including Sen. Dick Durbin, and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who used to be a commander in that district. The event kicked off the parish’s Friday evening marches for peace, which will take place every Friday of the summer.

That weekend 43 people were injured and 13 killed by gun violence in the city. According to the Chicago Tribune, as of June 21, 1,792 people were shot in Chicago in 2016 and there were 307 homicides. One ofthose killed was Salvador Suarez, who was shot around 1:30 p.m. on June 19 outside Holy Cross Church, 4541 S. Wood St., while Mass was going on.

On June 20, Archbishop Cupich issued a statement about the weekend’s violence.

“This terrible violence is destroying not but all of us. If we want to survive as a community that treasures life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we must act now to put an end to this carnage. No doubt there are many causes, but we can start by getting these combat weapons off our streets,” he said. “Not to act only gives in to the despairing falsehood that there is nothing we can do, which means that violence wins. This is a responsibility that belongs to all of us as citizens, especially to our elected officials. Let them hear our voices. Let us demand action today. Doing nothing is no longer an option.” (Read the full statement.)

During Friday’s rally Pfleger called on adults to stand up and take control of their blocks.

“Our children deserve to have a safe summer,” Pfleger told the crowd. “Our children should not be afraid to go to the park, sit on their porch or play with their friends on their block. The laughter and voices of children should be louder than shots fired or sirens blaring in our streets.”

While some may ask what another march or rally will do to help curb the violence, the priest said if it raises the consciousness of those attending and convinces them to stop being afraid or passive, and if it gives hope to the people who they pass along the street, then it will be a success.

Ending the violence requires a comprehensive approach that includes strengthening families, providing good schools, economic development and rebuilding the bridge between the people and the police, he said.

“And it’s going to demand us deciding that using a gun is not the way we settle our arguments. Guns are for cowards,” Pfleger preached to the crowd.

St. Sabina parishioner Renee Taylor came to the march to show the children they are supported.

“It’s so important to save our children,” she said. “We need to put down the guns and just love each other.”

Marching in the community helps people view one another as human beings, she said.

“We’re losing our loved ones. We need the people doing the killing to see them as people that you just can’t shoot them and throw them away. Somebody loves them.”

On June 13, Mayor Rahm Emanuel launched a new program focused on the opportunity crisis facing men of color on the South and West Sides of Chicago. This City of Chicago initiative will partner with St. Sabina Parish and provide 50 of “the most severely disconnected youth and young adults between the ages of 16-28 with full-time employment, as well as access to support and services to maintain employment,” a statement said.


  • gun violence
  • peace
  • st. sabina
  • father pfleger
  • non-violence
  • purpose over pain

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