March against violence

From the January-February 2013 issue of News & Letters:

March against violence

Chicago—Dozens of people marched on Chicago’s South Side to take a stand against violence on Jan. 15, followed by a speakout and vigil. Occupy the Southside organized this “King on King march” down Martin Luther King Jr. Drive from 63rd to Emmett Till Road.

“We’re here,” explained a Black woman activist with Occupy the Southside, “because we want peace in the neighborhood. In every city I’ve been to, King Drive is a volatile, dangerous, very violent area. We want to show the contradiction between what happens on King Drive and King the man. Also, not just pray for peace but act for peace. We’re asking folks to sign a peace pledge to live non-violent lives. If we could get people to agree that living non-violently is the way to go, then we can make some real changes. That’s what we’re hoping to begin today. I’m heartened when I look around and see all the people here, Black, Brown, white, coming together, in a way that Dr. King would have wanted.”

A Latino member of Southside Together Organizing for Power told N&L:

“On this day we are commemorating the 506 people who got killed this past year through violence in the city of Chicago. We should not have any murders in Chicago. If nothing is done, violence is going to get worse. We want to show the city that we’re not putting up with the violence anymore. Enough is enough.”

Over the past decade, Chicago murders have outnumbered U.S. troop deaths in the war in Afghanistan. It’s as if we had a Newtown school shooting every three weeks, and yet the deaths—mainly on the South and West Sides—are deemed much less newsworthy. Maybe it’s because 75% of the victims are African-American and 20% are Latino. They’re mostly young people, counted among the 25% of students that Mayor Rahm Emanuel says will never amount to anything. The police see the youth in these neighborhoods as suspects first and foremost, huge numbers of them get pushed into the criminal justice system. To many residents of majority-white neighborhoods of the North and Northwest Sides, these neighborhoods are so remote that the murders may as well be taking place on another planet.

People at the rally did not claim to have answers to this situation, but it was one more expression of the deep discontent simmering in much of Chicago. We reject the authorities’ pretense of doing something about the shocking violence while in reality they are unwilling to contemplate any change deep enough to uproot it.

—King on King marchers

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