For the third time in a week, the Chicago Police Department held an Operation Wake Up rally after the shooting death of a child, urging community members to become partners with police to help stem the city’s rampant gun violence.
Elected officials, faith leaders, activists, police, area residents and those who’ve lost loved ones to gun violence gathered in a parking lot on the northwest corner of Ogden and Kostner on Thursday night, less than a block from where 2-year-old Lavontay White and 26-year-old Lezarek Collins were shot to death Tuesday afternoon.
Glen Brooks, a CPD area coordinator who served as emcee, addressed a frequent criticism of recent Chicago protests: That they only focus on police misconduct and not the thousands of shootings committed by citizens.
“Here’s a fact: When it comes to violence and our children, there is no side,” Brooks said. “We are all on the side of righteousness and justice on this. Nobody wants to see death and destruction visit upon their family, their neighbors or their communities.”
Lavontay, his 25-year-old aunt and Collins were driving in the 2300 block of South Kenneth about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday when another vehicle drove past and someone opened fire, police said.
Lavontay’s aunt, who is pregnant, was shot in the abdomen as well, police said. She was listed in fair condition at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Last Saturday night, 11-year-old Takiya Holmes and 12-year-old Kanari Gentry-Bowers were shot in the head in separate incidents on the South Side within an hour of each other. Takiya died on Tuesday and Kanari died on Wednesday.
A man has been charged with first-degree murder in Takiya’s death, but no one has been charged in the shooting of Lavontay or Kanari as of Thursday night. None of the three children were the intended targets.
Andrew Holmes, a cousin of Takiya, frequents crime scenes across the city as a crisis responder, and on Thursday night he addressed about 50 people who gathered, urging community residents to come together to help quell the violence.
“My message is to the community: Come together, block by block, neighbor by neighbor, friend by friend,” Holmes said. “It’s too many children been laid to rest early and we’re having family reunions every week.”
Community activist Aleta Clark asked the children in attendance, about half a dozen, to join her in the center of the group as she decried a lack of community outrage.
“We are here because a 2-year-old child, strapped in a seat belt in his car, with his family, was gunned down. And there is more people that stand in the [Air] Jordan line than there [are] out here in this community for this baby,” Clark said. “This baby died for the decisions that we, as young adults, make. He [wasn’t] even old enough to yell ‘Help!’ but he died with his blood in his mouth in the back seat of a car.”
Since 12 a.m. Tuesday, at least 12 people have been shot to death across the city.
“Guess what? Not one police did it this time,” Clark said. “We did it. Where’s the outrage?”
Several times throughout the 45-minute-long rally, Brooks urged attendees to sign up to receive information about the neighborhood from police and their elected leaders.
“Tonight’s about making a difference, about being organized, about us being powerful,” he said.