ROGERS PARK — Mothers Against Senseless Killings, known as the “Army of Moms,” will once again expand, this time to Rogers Park later this month.
The murder of a 64-year-old Rogers Park teacher, along with a separate shooting of a 15-year-old boy, has become the catalyst for the group’s latest expansion, group founder Tamar Manasseh said.
“If it’s working in Englewood, it can work in Rogers Park,” she said.
The anti-violence group was formed in 2015 to prevent retaliation after a murder in the 7500 block of South Stewart. She brought unity to a block in Englewood when mothers and men came together to keep their neighborhood safe. Since the beginning, they've kept a watchful eye on the streets and interacted with their neighbors. During the summer, they sit on chairs on the corner daily and pass out food to the community.
Their presence is now needed on the North Side, Manasseh said.
Cynthia Trevillion, the Rogers Park middle school math teacher, was shot and killed in crossfire while walking down the street with her husband Oct. 13. The Chicago Waldorf School teacher was hit in her head and neck and collapsed next to her husband.
Trevillion, of the 6800 block of North Greenview Avenue, and her husband found themselves caught in the crosshairs of a drive-by shooting around 6:30 p.m. that Friday night while walking in front of Rogers Park Social bar in the 6900 block of North Glenwood Avenue, according to police and witnesses.
A half hour before Trevillion's death, a 15-year-old boy was also shot in the 7100 block of North Ridge Avenue, police said. Police originally said the boy was 13 and shot in the 2100 block of West Touhy Avenue.
Manasseh said that both incidents triggered emotions for many in Rogers Park, leading several long time residents to leave her messages and send emails requesting that her group come to their community.
“It made them super emotional,” she said. “I hate that sometimes it has to be reactive and not so proactive, but that’s what they want to do now and we don’t go anywhere we’re not called.”
She asked her Facebook friends what do they think about a Rogers Park chapter of the group. It was an overwhelming yes, she said.
West Rogers Park resident Jennifer Viets works with neighborhood group Circles & Ciphers, "a leadership development program for disengaged young men." She said that she respects what Manasseh and her group are doing, but doesn't want people to think that residents aren't already doing work. The outside help would just add to the ground work already laid.
"I love the work that [the Army of Moms] does and I think it would be phenomenal to have more things, but I also believe we should be supporting programs that already exist and finding ways to support and grow the work that's already being done," she said.
Viets said she's not opposed to Manasseh's group or any other working in conjunction with the community groups already established.
Former resident Maria Pike, who's still active in the community, said Manasseh's group's model works and Rogers Park could benefit from having a chapter. Both shootings have left community members feeling unsafe she said.
Steps have been taken in the past to make the community feel safer. Pike said a patrol group that works with local police canvasses the neighborhoods in groups of five or larger, but that move has been a controversial one, she added.
“When they created the patrol, it didn't sound inclusive at all,” she said. “Why would you have to patrol with police next to you and you have to have at least five people and you won’t disclose where you’ll be patrolling? I was shocked.”
At Trevillion’s vigil, Chicago Police representatives promoted forming block clubs and positive loitering, which is when residents gather at crime scenes or corners to send a message to criminals. Attending CAPS meetings, where police meet with the community was another suggestion, but the event took a drastic turn when attendees began shouting. Tensions rose as some questioned whether the proposed solutions were effective.
Some said CAPS meetings and positive loitering events are attended mainly by white residents and haven’t been welcoming to minorities.
Rogers Park is diverse, Pike said. Most community members, she said, just want to live in peace and work together. She said she’s confident the Army of Moms will bring the change she and others want to see.
“We have to look at each other as part of the village,” she said.