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March honors young Black, Brown Chicagoans who died from violence this year

Nita Tennyson, 22, organized a march, rally and candlelight vigil in Washington Park Friday.

Nita Tennyson, organizer of the Love March, with her young boy by her side, speaks to those gathered at a vigil for those young people killed by violence in Chicago, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Nita Tennyson, organizer of the Love March, with her young boy by her side, speaks to those gathered at a vigil for those young people killed by violence in Chicago.

Michael Serrano was shot to death a year ago this Sunday. He would have celebrated his birthday on Thursday.

To honor her brother’s memory, Nita Tennyson, 22, of Auburn-Gresham, organized a Love March. The march, rally and candlelight vigil Friday evening memorialized young Black and Brown Chicagoans who have lost their lives to violence this year.

The Bronzeville shooting that claimed her brother’s life was just one of many times Tennyson has been touched by violence.

“I’ve lost 34 friends in the past four years. I’ve been to a funeral every moth this year,” Tennyson said. “It’s 9/11, and I feel like the state of emergency is Black and Brown Youth.”

About 100 people, many wearing shirts or masks printed with pictures of loved ones they’ve lost, marched a half-mile down Garfield Boulevard in Washington Park on the South Side. According to Sun-Times data, 268 people under 18 years old have been shot this year; 28 were 10 years old or younger.

A woman releases a lantern into the sky for those killed by violence in Chicago, during a vigil in the Washington Park neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
A woman releases a lantern into the sky for those killed by violence in Chicago.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Malcolm Elliott, 20, of Englewood, lost his nephew in a fatal shooting in 2009.

Over the past few years, 19-year-old India Jackson said she’s lost multiple friends to gun violence.

“It’s about money,” said Jackson, of Hyde Park. “If we had resources, we wouldn’t need to turn to violence.”

Many marchers called for defunding the police, spending that money instead on mental health services and housing in underserved communities. State Rep. Lamont Robinson of Chicago spoke Friday of a bill he introduced at the state legislature to cut 10% of the Chicago Police Department’s budget and invest the funds into communities in need.

“It’s important to support the youth,” Robinson said. “We have to take back our communities.”

A woman shows her young girl the photo of a person who was killed by violence in Chicago, during a vigil in the Washington Park neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
A woman shows her young girl the photo of a person who was killed by violence in Chicago. The board included 184 photos and names of Black and Brown people age 24 or younger who lost their lives to violence.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Marchers then gathered around a board bearing photos and names of 184 Black and Brown people age 24 or younger who lost their lives to violence — including shootings, abuse and car crashes — in Chicago this year. As of Friday, that list had grown on all but one day this month, Tennyson said.

One of the names, Charles Evans, is Henrietta Ford’s son, fatally shot in Gresham three months ago. Ford said she attended the Love March to call out the senseless killings of so many young people in Chicago.

“We’re letting people know that our lives matter,” Ford, 59, of Chatham said. “It’s not up to nobody to take nobody’s life.”