ENGLEWOOD — "Violence is not normal."
"Violence is not normal."
"Violence is not normal!"
That's the chant Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) led Tuesday night as about 60 South Siders and Chicago police officers gathered for an emergency rally at the site of a midday shooting that wounded four people Sunday.
"No neighborhood should have to come together to see bodies lined up, to see 22 bullet casings on the sidewalk, to see children running from assault weapons," Lopez said. "That is not normal."
About 12:15 p.m. Sunday, four people were in a convenience store in the 1800 block of West 63rd Street when they heard gunfire, police said. The victims, ranging in age from 26 to 56, ran outside to avoid the shooting — only to run straight toward the gunmen, officers said.
Police blocked off the corner of 63rd and Honore streets from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday so that officers, community members, Lopez and religious leaders could gather to pray, urge peace and enroll in safe community activities. It was about 35 degrees at the time.
"We're here to let everyone know these are our neighborhoods," Lopez said. "These are our streets, and most importantly, these are our children that are being gunned down, our seniors that are terrified to come out of their homes, our neighborhoods that are being put to the test."
Resident Marquita "CeCe" Dixon urged attendees to get involved with I Grow Chicago, a "peace house" that provides mentorship, social services and recreation classes.
"I'm 24," Dixon said, "and a lot of people don't make it to see my age nowadays. ... Me personally, I can't even count on my fingers how many loved ones and friends I have lost due to the bad gun violence in my community."
"As a mom," Dixon continued, "I don't want my child hearing gunshots all day every day ... so put the freaking guns down and let our kids enjoy life, please."
A group of young men passed out free buttons that say, "Put the f------ guns down."
Several community organizers urged those in attendance to reject Chicago's "no snitch" code and tell police which residences house illegal guns and dangerous gang members.
"We know we are not going to stop this violence by locking people up," said Glen Brooks, a CAPS coordinator on the South Side. "I'm going to tell you that right now, and I work for the police. We have plenty of handcuffs, but we need more of you. We need more community partners. We need more residents to work with us."
Activist Andrew Holmes referenced Saturday's Women March as he urged South Side neighbors to come together.
"Just as they did Downtown, we can do the same thing here," Holmes said. We as men, we as women, we as community need to come out and have that same kind of force [right here in Englewood]. When an African-American shoots another African-American, we need to shut the whole area down until we find the killer."
Gloria Williams has lived in West Englewood since the early 1970s.
"I've seen the changes in the community," she said. "It's gotten worse over the years. It started when the drugs came into the community in the '80s, then it just escalated from drugs, now to guns. Not only that, there's nothing really in West Englewood" in terms of employment opportunities and infrastructure.
Williams said she plans to launch a series of block clubs responsible for safety on each street this summer, as part of Voices of West Englewood.