Family of slain teen calls for more resources, strong gun control

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Tony Webb’s aunts Tawana Watts, left, and Tywone Lee, right, urge the city to devote resources to communities most affected by gun violence in light of their nephew’s death. | Rachel Hinton/Sun-Times

Four hours before his 18th birthday, Tony Webb was killed in an attempted robbery gone wrong.

The family of the 17-year-old Community Christian Alternative Academy sophomore said he was a helpful and funny kid who was seeking employment to help his mother.

Though Webb’s family is still shaken by his death on March 6, they joined community organizers Tuesday to demand more resources for communities that face the most gun violence in light of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Webb’s aunt Tywone Lee, who also lost a son to gun violence in 2016, said through tears that until everyone comes together, the shootings will continue to be an issue.

“My son had potential, he had dreams, my son is just as important as the kids in Florida,” Lee said. “I feel bad for them, I do, but we go through this every single day. We lose that many children, or more, a day and it has to stop.”

A collective of roughly 25 schools around the city, five in Baltimore and one school in Washington, D.C., are planning walkouts tomorrow in solidarity with students at Stoneman Douglas and to demand investment in mental health, employment and other root causes of gun violence affecting communities of color.

School walkouts were galvanized by the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas shooting who sought gun control reforms after a former student killed 17 students.

There has been movement on the gun-control front around the country, mostly led by students, but there also have been setbacks. As Webb’s family spoke, Gov. Bruce Rauner was vetoing gun dealer licensing measures.

Kofi Ademola, an organizer with Black Lives Matter, said that he has lost several students and family members to gun violence, and he said the blood is on the mayor’s hands, too, for closing schools in the city.

“We too say never again, we too say put the guns down, however, let’s keep in mind the biggest armed and militarized group in Chicago is the Chicago Police Department,” Ademola said. “The bottom line is that having more police does not equal safety. We know that preventing crime before that happens is the best solution. Prevention can save us from future tragedies.”

To address the tragedies, Ademola issued four demands that he said the city should address to stem its violence problem, which include building community centers that are “trauma informed”; small business investment to revitalize communities; preventing interstate gun trafficking and holding gun dealers accountable, and reopening mental health clinics with money from the police academy.

Though Webb’s death is the latest tragedy in the city, his family members say it won’t be the last.

“Some fool thought it was OK to rob him, and we still don’t have full details,” Lee said, speaking on behalf of Webb’s mother, who cried on the shoulder of another family member. “Which one of my other sisters or brothers will go through this? How much more do we have to take?”

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