AUBURN GRESHAM — After a violent weekend that left nine people dead and 39 people wounded the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church, is offering a cash incentive to anyone willing to help identify those selling guns illegally.
"Anybody that knows somebody who is out here selling guns on the street, give me their information. And if we catch them I will give you $5,000 just to turn in a gun runner because I want the gun runners off the street," Pfleger said at a Monday news conference at The Ark of St. Sabina, 7800 S. Racine Ave. "Warm weather cannot turn into bloody streets."
He added that he would help anyone trying to find a job, get back in school or simply feed their family.
"But we will not tolerate shooting. You [gang bangers] cannot shoot our children and go back in your house and eat and watch TV like everything is OK," Pfleger said. "Guns and shooting cannot be what gives us 'street' respect. The only outcome of being a shooter is ending up in jail, paralyzed as a victim or being buried in a cemetery."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Latasha Thomas (17th), WGCI personality Tony Sculfield, youths and parents joined Pfleger.
If it's jobs that young people need, Sculfield said all of the shootings makes it "hard to attract businesses to the community when we have babies laying on the sidewalk in a pool of blood. We need the 'brothers' on the street to make a decision to put the guns down."
One thing that has become routine for the mayor is calling parents whose children were killed due to gun violence.
But the mayor said he wanted to get to a point when he no longer had to make those calls.
"There is not a call harder to make than one to a parent who has lost a child to gun violence. I am done making these calls. I have nothing left to say," Emanuel said. "We have to decide as a city that we are done" with gun violence.
Nathaniel and Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, parents of Hadiya Pendleton; Pamela Bosley, mother of Terrell Bosley; Annette Nance-Holt, mother of Blair Holt; and Tymeka Woods, mother of Michael Flournoy III, were among the grieving parents that joined Pfleger.
"Our children are moving targets. Our kids would rather stay inside to play video games than go outside. They know as long as they are inside they are safe," Woods said. "On April 5, my son became a statistic. When is it going to end?"