The five block march through Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood Saturday morning brought quiet attention to the small south side park where gunfire killed 15 year old Hadiya Pendelton, a majorette with the King High School Band who performed in last month’s inaugural parade.
“We make an appeal for those who did the killing and those who know of the killing and killers– turn themselves in.” The Reverend Jesse Jackson was among those marching.
Just an hour earlier, he brought families impacted by Chicago’s gun violence to his Rainbow Push headquarters, including Hadiya Pendelton’s cousin.
Pendelton was shot in the back and killed while standing with friends inside Harsh Park after taking final exams on Tuesday. Police believe the shooter mistook the group for a rival gang.
Shatira Welks wants the person to be turned in. “You know your child. You know your cousin. You know your friend you know your relative. You know who’s done this. All they’re going to do is do something to somebody else’s child.”
Pendelton was one of 42 people killed in Chicago last month. Also killed in January, Marshall Fields Hall, whose mother, Donna Hall, came to march.
“It’s sad but I’m so happy that everybody came out for this little girl as well as my son and the other people,” she said, “We have to stop. Something has to be done.”
Southside faith leaders are now calling for not just better policing. But a local witness protection program for those who turn others in.
Ira Acre of Greater St. John Bible Church said “There is money available. We have the red light cameras. We have the blue light cameras. Wherever you get the money from– if we are really serious we must move beyond just rhetoric. And get protection for these people.”
“The whole world is now watching us.” Reverend Jackson says it’s now time President Obama come to Chicago to personally address the violence. “When the president shows up– it shows ultimate national seriousness. The president’s power gives, without any legislation or money, it shows ultimate national seriousness.”
A seriousness echoed by Welks, who says her Hadiya always talked about making a difference in the world. If it’s going to happen, this is the time.
“Chicago has becoming a place where we’re just becoming comfortable with death,” Rev. Jackson said, “I don’t want to become comfortable with death.”