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"Prayer on the 9" anti-violence march to return to Grand Crossing this weekend

Thousands expected at "Prayer on the 9" anti-violence march
Thousands expected at "Prayer on the 9" anti-violence march 02:10

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Thousands of people are expected to gather in the Grand Crossing neighborhood for an anti-violence march this weekend. It's called Prayer on the 9 - with the nine referring to 79th Street.

CBS 2's Shardaa Gray spoke with Pastor John Hannah of New Life Covenant Church Southeast about his mission to end violence.

"This is personal for me, because I love my city," he said.

For the past 10 years, Hannah has hosted the annual "Prayer on the 9," where thousands of people stand together in solidarity during a march on 79th Street.

"We moved into the community 12 years ago, and we decided that we wanted to come out the four walls of the church and impact the community. So we just don't pray; we clean the community," Hannah said.

The last march was in 2019, with the event put on hold since then due to the pandemic, but this year he's bringing it back during Memorial Day weekend, a time when the city braces for an expected summer increase in violence.

"I believe that, if we can show our face and our presence during this Memorial Day weekend, it would make someone think twice before they do something," he said.

Hannah says, this Saturday, he's expecting thousands of people to show up at 79th and Greenwood, and walk nearly two miles towards the Dan Ryan Expressway. The theme this year is "Our Youth Matters." He's expecting a special guest: Mayor Brandon Johnson.

The City of Chicago Violence Reduction Dashboard shows, from 2015 to 2022, for all violent crimes – like aggravated assault, homicide and robbery – crime numbers have been steady.

Hannah wants to bring crime numbers down.

"I want 79th Street to look like downtown. I want to be able to sit outside; and have breakfast, lunch, or brunch on 79th Street," he said.

In the past, this march has brought out everyone from elected officials to celebrities, like Common.

"It's up to us to galvanize, put God first," Common said at the march in 2019.

Hannah said he hopes the march will continue for years to come.

"I live close to here, I worship here, I shop here, and I eat here. So the goal is to make here a safe space," he said

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