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In Effort To Prevent Violence On Memorial Day Weekend, Chicago Community Leaders Set Up Positive Activities

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago violence prevention was in full swing at the start of Memorial Day weekend Saturday.

Just Saturday morning, a 12-year-old boy was grazed by a bullet in the Grand Crossing neighborhood. And with a surge in crime last year, community groups are homing in on strategies to increase the peace.

At Ogden Park in the heart of the Englewood neighborhood, love was the theme Saturday – especially for young people. There was free ice cream and free food.

It was a gesture of recognition and caring that Nita Tennyson makes known through her "Love Train" initiative.

"This is basically how I'm celebrating my year of doing it," Tennyson told CBS 2's Steven Graves.

On Saturday, the mission was to create a "love wall" with faces of young people killed due to gun violence since late last year.

"I see their faces and I know their names - and I feel like we should all know their names; know their faces," Tennyson said.

She was out this Memorial Day weekend in partnership with community group My Block, My Hood, My City's "Hit the Hood" effort.

It is all because this time of year usually brings more crime, and there is a need for positive activity.

Last year, 40 people were shot and about 10 killed in the holiday weekend.

Kids are far from exempt from the violence. So far this year, at least 95 children have been shot - 21 killed. Compare that to last year, when 13 kids were killed.

Given both the pandemic and the crime epidemic that is happening, community leaders are vowing to ensure this year is different.

"To take action and not just be reactionary" is the goal for some young women from Little Village, said Esmeralda Gonzalez.

Along with activities, the young women's event will include financial rental assistance. Multiple community groups were purposefully holding the effort Saturday until nighttime.

"Having a sense of peace while walking around, feeling comfortable and safe while walking around your own neighborhood, and breaking the stigma of, 'It's too late and too dangerous to walk around my own neighborhood at this time,'" is what the organizers hope to accomplish, said organizer Luz Cortez.

They are increasing the peace one event at a time.

Graves: "What would you say to people who see this and really wonder if it will make an impact on crime?"

Gonzalez: "If we build community and we come together and we actually get to know one another, then we get to know, you know, what those triggers are and try to avoid them. We get to know, you know, what makes that person feel loved and want to be a part of the community and want to help build that community."

And they have the mindset that any effort helps.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has outlined the city's plan to curb crime this summer. The Summer Safety Strategy focuses on flooding resources into 15 police beats that the mayor said make up 50 percent of the violence in Chicago.

They are broken up into four areas – two on the West Side and two on the South Side.

Mayor Lightfoot also wants libraries, parks, and the Department of Public Health to get involved in anti-violence efforts.

Meanwhile, the community efforts on the South and West sides will continue throughout the summer. Below are the organizations involved with their times and locations (some have already passed):


My Block My Hood My City 6500 S. Racine Ave., Saturday, noon-4 p.m.
WakeUpChicago 14th and Morgan streets, Monday, 11-6 p.m.
Think Outside Da Block 6603 S. Hermitage Ave., Saturday, 2-8 p.m.
Nita's Love Train The March will be at 63rd Street and Ashland Avenue, but the popup will be at Ogden park (65th and Racine), Saturday, 2 p.m.-4 p.m.
National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum 10406 S. Maryland Ave., Monday, 2-8 p.m.
Them Sisters 109th Street and Perry Avenue, Sunday, noon-3 p.m.
Berto Aguayo/ Increase The Peace 2600 S. Christiana Ave., Saturday, 4-9 p.m.
Mr. Dads Fathers Club 6300 S. Ashland Ave., noon on Saturday
Heavenly Cynt Youth Douglass Park, Monday, 1 p.m.
Changing Lives 1401 S. Sacramento Ave., Saturday, noon-3 p.m.

Also, starting Tuesday, June 1, you can apply for a $5,000 'Hit the Hood' grant that would be used for a 4th of July event. More information on how to apply can be found here.

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