Story by Shaquita Matthews
May 21, 2009 – Erin Jones lost her 17-year-old brother James to gun violence two years ago. She says her brother made money selling drugs on the street. Many who knew him believe he died in a “deal that went wrong.”
Jones, 24, participated in a South Side demonstration May 9 to call for an end to gun violence in her neighborhood.
Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) 3rd District, led by Commander Lillie Crump Hales, organized the first-ever Thousand Man March and Summit to promote peace and bring awareness about gun deaths. About 500 people participated, according to police.
Residents from the Grand Crossing neighborhood gathered at Meyering Park and marched to the Gary Comer Youth Center where the summit was held.
“[My brother] was always out in the streets, hustling. I know he sold weed but apparently he sold other stuff too,” said Jones.
She said her brother’s friends claim they know who murdered him, but because of the “no snitching” street code, they haven’t told the police.
“I came out today to show my support in everything that’s going on. We need to stop the violence and come together as a community. I feel like if I was more involved with my brother, maybe I could have saved his life. Make a difference,” said Jones.
Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) spoke at the summit.
“Gun violence is stealing the lives of our entire community,” said Burris. He said parents’ “lack of interest” contributes to their children’s criminal behavior. Burris said although gun violence has decreased by 20 percent in Chicago, it’s still too high.
“You can’t tell someone who just lost their relative that gun violence is down by 20 percent. That won’t comfort them,” said Burris.
Burris also said there were 26 Chicago Public School students murdered last year. CPS has already surpassed that number for this year – the homicide number is now 36.
He urged the crowd to get involved with their children before they lose them to street crime.
“We can’t put a police officer on every corner. It’s up to us, the family members,” said Burris.
Lorene Cameron, a member of St. Mark’s AME Zion Church, did not march but had an informational booth at the summit. Cameron lives on the South Side. Her booth focused on the prevention of child abuse. Cameron said the prevention of child abuse is the “most critical of all.”
“I’m here to promote positive interaction with the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence,” she said.
“Children are victimized,” said Cameron. She’s never been a victim of crime in her neighborhood but she’s sure it exists. Cameron said she just wants to “do her part.”