Langdon, one of the organizers of the "Thou Shalt Not Murder" campaign, prayed that his efforts would indeed result in a day without murder in Chicago. And Monday morning, Langdon's prayers were answered.
No one in the city was murdered Sunday. He credited God for this blessing as well as the people in Beverly, Morgan Park and beyond who stood behind the campaign that included four worship services dating back to Dec. 16.
"This was an incredibly low bar, but it was also incredibly ambitious given the realities of our city has faced for this past series of time," Langdon said Monday.
The campaign was led by about a dozen religious and community leaders from the 19th Ward. Early on, these advocates changed the focus of the campaign to a movement rather than their original online petition drive that focused on a single day.
That movement now continues, Langdon said. He said the database of supporters for the campaign will be used to organize future events also aimed at promoting peace. Mother's Day is already circled on the calendar as a potential day of action.
"A day without murder is not enough. The work begins now," Langdon said.
He launched the campaign after a neighborhood outcry in September when the words "Black Lives Matter" were placed on the sign outside of the Beverly Unitarian Church. Church leaders eventually changed the sign to read to "Life Matters Risk Loving Everyone."
The switch came after angry calls were made to the church and a heated online debate grew, largely sparked by those believing the original sign carried an anti-police message. Those same concerns surfaced when the Rev. Michael Pfleger was asked to speak Feb. 27 at one of the campaign's prayer services.
News that the pastor of St. Sabina Church was to participate in the event at St. Barnabas Parish in Beverly again led to angry online comments. Some neighborhood Facebook commenters even called for parents to pull their children from the Catholic school as well as withhold their Sunday contributions.
The Rev. William Malloy, the pastor at St. Barnabas, quelled such concerns and stood by the event. It proved to be a peaceful gathering that also included presentations from Chicago Police Chief Eugene Williams and the Rev. David Kelly, executive director of Precious Blood Ministries of Reconciliation.
As the final effort leading up to Sunday, organizers of the campaign visited 134 sites throughout Chicago where people have been murdered in 2016. Langdon visited 52 of these sites himself and said the work proved powerful.
Perhaps the most stirring moment was placing a T-shirt memorial created by the campaign outside of a home in Gage Park where six people, including one child, was found stabbed to death on Feb. 4.
"That was a real gut punch," said Langdon, who traveled to the sites with several Morgan Park High School students.
Still, the conversation sparked by this event as well as others held during the campaign were invaluable, Langdon said. And he firmly believes that those involved brought about something divine that ultimately led to Sunday as a day without murder.
"I think we are all getting a small sense that this was a victory," he said.
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