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Leaders, activists push for safety with another violent Memorial Day weekend in Chicago

Activists, leaders work to prevent violence in Chicago this summer
Activists, leaders work to prevent violence in Chicago this summer 02:43

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The family of a 23-year-old man in the Albany Park neighborhood was one of at least nine mourning the loss of a loved one because of gun violence in Chicago this Memorial Day weekend.

The man – identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office as Cristian Diaz Hernandez – was near the street in the 3100 block of West Carmen Avenue when a vehicle pulled up and someone inside shot him. He was struck in the abdomen and was pronounced dead at Ascension St. Francis Hospital in Evanston.

At least 30 people also were wounded by gunfire in the city altogether as of Monday evening.

This came as city leaders and activists pushed for safety – as the holiday weekend marks the unofficial start to summer. Police were out manning every corner downtown both on foot and on bikes this past weekend.

For many years, Memorial Day weekend in Chicago has been known to be a violent one.

"In 2016, it was extraordinarily violent - I believe somewhere near 60 or 70 instances during the course of the weekend," said Street Pastor Donovan Price, "and since then, it's been known for being one of the more violent weekends. Whether it has to do with the weather or the actual holiday, I can't say."

This year's numbers are not as high compared to last year, when 53 people were shot and 12 were killed. But Pastor Price said he still has to prepare himself for the gruesome numbers well in advance.

"You prepare yourself mentally, and otherwise; spiritually, so that you're able to help as many people as possible - and be in as many places as possible to help those people," Price said.

Price helped this weekend by responding to the shootings in the city that had left at least 39 people either dead or wounded as of 8 p.m. Monday.

"Things could be a lot worse," said Price, "and it's sad to say things could be a lot worse."

Another of the victims who lost their lives in shootings this past weekend was a 5-year-old girl named Reign Ware – who was in a parked car in the 200 block of South Campbell Avenue on the city's West Side just 3:30 a.m. when she was shot in the abdomen. She died at Stroger Hospital of Cook County. A 24-year-old man was also wounded in the incident.

Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, Mayor Brandon Johnson unveiled a $100 million safety plan that includes anti-violence programs, restorative justice initiatives, and paid jobs.

"Jobs and things like that of course help, but they have to want jobs," said Pastor Price. "They have to want the kind of programs that are available to them. They have to take advantage of the programs. The parents have to play a part in them either taking advantage of either the jobs, or the programs."

Police Supt. Larry Snelling said this year, the department will limit how many days off are canceled for officers.

"I kind of wonder if they had actually talked to the young people about what exactly what would help them to not want to do some of the things that they are doing that perhaps cause trouble," said Snelling. "That would be a great trend to see."

With hours remaining in the holiday weekend, Price left the city with a thought and task.

"There's no reason to lose hope, but there is reason to pray," he said.

Late Monday, no one was in custody in the shooting that killed 5-year-old Reign Ware.

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