HYDE PARK — South Shore residents fed up with the violence and lack of investment in their community held a prayer vigil Tuesday night.
“The prayer rally is more so a coming together of community stakeholders and community members who are concerned about what is going on on the Southeast Side of Chicago,” Rev. Jedidiah Brown, one of the event organizers and the head of the Young Leaders Alliance, said before the vigil.
Wendesday morning, Brown said the vigil "went really well, we had a lot of people come out."
Members of Young Leaders Alliance, the South Shore Planning Coalition and other South Shore groups were also involved in the event.
South Shore has been wracked by setbacks in the last year. The neighborhood lost a major grocery store when Dominick’s closed in December. A major corner was left vacant when Urban Partnership Bank closed its branch on March 22.
The community continues to be dogged by violence, including high-profile crimes like the April 1 shooting of Sharniece Hudson and her 3- and 5-year-old grandsons in the 2500 block of East 78th Street.
After having her injuries treated, Hudson said shootings were increasingly common in the neighborhood.
"It's going to get worse when it's warm," Hudson said. "You hear gunshots all the time, but you never see little kids get shot."
Brown said the prayer rally was meant to bring community members together and feel empowered to change their neighborhood before summer hits.
“People are frustrated, but they don’t know what to do,” Brown said.
Many of the groups are ramping up efforts to improve the community as summer approaches.
The Young Leaders Alliance is working with local police to start positive loitering, where community members and police spend extra time on blocks that have had problems with drugs and violence.
The Planning Coalition and other groups continue to work with Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) and local churches to find a new grocery store to replace Dominick’s and redevelop the former bank.
Brown said his group planned to start fundraising soon in an effort to build up a investment capital for start-up businesses in the community.