ENGLEWOOD — A South Side pastor and his supporters now use a startling but powerful symbol in their anti-violence marches through Englewood: They carry a casket.
“We don’t want any more death, we don’t want any more murders, we don’t want any more killings,” said the Rev. Dwayne Grant of Xperience Church Chicago, 6325 S. Morgan.
Calahan Funeral Home agreed to loan one of its caskets to the marchers.
“The casket represents what we don’t want to see. We don’t want to see dead people, we don’t want to see more death, we want to see good grades, not graves,” said 9-year-old Breon Anderson-Brown of Englewood, who marched for peace last week.
Edric Calahan, director of marketing and community liaison for the funeral home at 7030 S. Halsted St., said that death may be inevitable but life need not be cut short.
“Our goal is for people to live life to the fullest, and in the end, then we serve them,” Calahan said.
Grant has vowed to pray on the corner of 66th and Halsted streets at 6 p.m. every Friday until Sept. 25. Then they march to Ryan Harris Park, 6781 S. Lowe St.
On Wednesday, Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), Cook County Circuit Court Judge Maryam Ahmad and community members joined Grant in a peace march. The peace effort carries the hashtag #NoMoreFunerals and is sponsored by the City of Chicago, the funeral home, former aldermanic candidate Stephanie Coleman, the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and the Mikva Challenge.
“No more killing, no more shooting, increase the peace” the group chanted as they marched down Halsted with signs including one that said, “I want to grow up to be ... a basketball player, a lawyer.”
With school starting on Tuesday, Grant wanted to pray over the children. Sawyer said that the timing couldn’t have been better.
“This march is to increase the peace, decrease the amount of death and violence that we have citywide, not just in this community, but everywhere," Sawyer said. "We want people to know it’s more important for you to get a degree than to pick up a gun, it’s more important for you to stay in school than to get in a beef with someone.”
Sawyer said he depends on people like the groups involved because he can’t do it alone.
“The alderman can only do so much,” he said.
At the end of the march, people gathered for prayer in the park. Local artist K.W.O.E. performed and people enjoyed free hotdogs. The next march is at 6 p.m. Friday.
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