ENGLEWOOD — Residents upset by a makeshift graveyard erected in an Englewood lot said they have halted a plan to remove the wooden crosses — for now.
Mothers Against Senseless Killings, or Englewood's "Army of Moms," had said it planned to remove the 44 memorial crosses Greg Zanis put up in an empty lot to honor Chicago's 2017 murder victims on Tuesday night. The group, along with members of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, were upset the memorial was put up without consulting neighborhood residents and said the display put too much emphasis on death instead of life.
But Tuesday evening, Tamar Manasseh, founder of the mothers group, said she had spoken to Zanis as well as Ald. Toni Foulkes and will hold off on any action until a meeting can be held.
"We're pausing the action until the community can meet, which is what we should have done before all of this happened," she said Tuesday. "What he did was inconsiderate to the Englewood community."
The meeting could take place this week, she said.
Earlier Tuesday, Zanis, a West Side native who now lives in Aurora, said from the lot in the 5500 block of South Bishop Street that he would just keep replacing the crosses if people took them down, and boasted that he can make up to 50 a day.
The retired carpenter said that he likes building the cross memorials because they're meaningful.
"Instead of building homes, I'm building crosses," he said.
He said he didn't believe the group would go through with removing his memorial.
"Do you really think they're serious? I think they're just looking to get attention," he said.
He said he doesn't plan to get police involved.
Manasseh, who lives in Bronzeville, grew up on the block where the crosses were erected. She used to play baseball in the lot.
“There’s a place for the living and a place for the dead,” Manasseh said Monday evening.
Zanis said that his offer to sell the lot for $4,500 still stands. He also said he's not moving the crosses until he has another location for them.
Rochetta Tyler lost her daughter Michelle Pearson, 20, to gun violence last year. Zanis made her a cross.
She said what the Englewood group is threatening to do is wrong and "hurtful."
"The focus is on the crosses when it should be on the issue — the violence," Tyler said.
"He should keep them here," she said about the crosses. "Maybe this will change people's lives."
Tyler said she doesn't like for her 6- and 2-year old grandchildren to go outside.
"We're scared to come outside. We dying in two's and three's now," Tyler said. "Let's come together and figure out how to take the guns out these [shooters'] hands."