CHICAGO — Churchgoers and Chicagoans on the South Side took to the lakefront Sunday morning to stand against gun violence.
Families gathered on the beach to worship and pray for change.
“You’re afraid to even get in the car on the expressway now,” said Chicago resident Estelle Spriggs. “You don’t know if you are going to make it back home. You’re afraid to even sit on your porch now.”
The group expressed hopes for a safer tomorrow for their children.
“A great foundation of a childhood is the simple things that we grew up doing,” Chicago resident Robert Rogers said. “Riding your bike. Playing outside with friends. Running up and down your street. But parents these days might not want to do that simply because they’re not certain if their child will make it back inside the house.”
The pastor of Powerhouse International Ministries, Antonio Rocquemore, led a lakefront vigil against violence at 63rd Street Beach. The community gathering was open to everyone.
“This is not about your domination or your ministry. So to have [the vigil] at a church would have gave it more of a church initiation. We’re trying to reach out to our city because we have a city problem,” Pastor Rocquemore said.
The beach service took place the morning after two shootings, both with multiple victims. Six people were shot at Kensington and Prairie in West Pullman Saturday night. Among the injured, a wounded off-duty Chicago firefighter. Earlier Saturday evening, a man was killed and three others were wounded at 79th and Ellis in Grand Crossing. As a result, Pastor Rocquemore urged the police department to change its strategy.
“Whatever you’re doing now is obviously not working,” he said. “Because it’s getting worse. Everything is getting worse now.”
Many in attendance remain hopeful that prayer will be enough.
“It might not be enough, but it’ll help,” Spriggs. said. “And it’s a start.”