An hour spent on the Internet notifying neighbors, friends, the media and others was sufficient for three women in the West Village area (near Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue) to mobilize more than 100 residents to say “Enough” to violence.
After a 17-year-old was shot inside the McDonald’s on Dempster Street near Dodge Avenue, Nancy Floy, Dickelle Fonda and Mary Trujillo decided to hold a peace vigil there, and asked residents and others in the community to join them in a stand against violence.
The solemn crowd stretched along Dempster Street – single-file, so as not to disrupt businesses there. Quiet melodies from folk singer Kristen Lems provided background music, and one song in particular seemed to characterize the mood of the crowd: “We are a gentle, angry people, and we are singing for our lives.”
“I think violence is a heart issue,” Ms. Trujillo said to the crowd. “When we stop and see that people are flesh and blood like ourselves, it becomes harder to shoot or kill them.” In a separate interview she told the RoundTable, “What’s important is that all of us are standing together and saying ‘Enough. Let’s make this a community where we want to live.’ I’m glad there are lots of groups like MOMS.o.s. that are addressing this.”
Billy Logan III said he had come to the vigil “to support the community in a loving way and to show the young people we love them.”
Don Woods and his wife Alma have lived in the community for decades. “Our kids went to Evanston schools and our grandkids went to Evanston schools,” Mrs. Woods said.
“I’ve been in this community for 60-some years. We live here and care and support our community,” said Mr. Woods.
“The bullet that went through Tyree Green went through all of us,” said Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. “It’s time to reclaim this community. … If the Supreme Court can make it easy to own guns, the community of Evanston can make it difficult to have guns. Call 911 if you see a gun. It’s time for us to have the community we love again. We are going to take back the streets. Guns in this community have to go away. Children should not live in the City of Evanston and witness shooting.”
Looking at the issue from a statewide perspective, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin and State Representative Robyn Gabel voiced their opposition to the possibility of Illinois residents’ being able to carry concealed weapons.
Referring to a proposed bill in the General Assembly, Commissioner Suffredin said, “We have to make sure the ‘concealed carry’ bill doesn’t pass. This was a young man who came into a restaurant and shot another child. We need to have sane gun laws.”
Rep. Gabel said she opposed the concealed-carry legislation and said she thought the juvenile-justice system should be overhauled. “We need to have a better approach to punishing people appropriately for the crimes they commit. We need to help young people through the mistakes they make rather than lock them up for five or 10 years. Shootings need to be punished in a different way than do marijuana violations,” she told the RoundTable.
Addressing to the crowd, she said, “If a law should be passed to have non-violence training at the kindergarten level, let me know. Please, let’s all pray for peace.”
Fifth Ward Alderman Delores Holmes drove home a message of urgency. “Go back home and organize your own house first,” she said. “And then organize your block. We have to give good examples to our young people. It starts in the home. We’ve been dealing with violence on the West Side for a while, and it’s not going away. It’s going to spread.”
Update on the Shooting at McDonaldâ³
Tyree Green, who was shot at McDonald’s on April 15, is in stable condition, with a wound to his mid-section, said Police Chief Richard Eddington. Police have a suspect in custody and are expected to release his name and the charges against him later today, April 18, he said.
Chief Eddington added that the shooting did not appear to be gang-related, but it is another in a string of violent episodes “between two groups of kids in Evanston, Skokie and Chicago who don’t like each other. … It’s the same two groups of kids that were involved in the Davis-Benson shooting and have decided [that this is] how they’re going to handle this dispute.”
He referred to some of the speakers at the MOMS.o.s. rally on April 9, who challenged youth to examine their choice to carry a gun or a knife and their choice to use it. “You have to look at what life decision you are making that make you decide to have to carry a gun or a knife,” Chief Eddington said to a group of residents as they gathered for the peace vigil at Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue on April 17.