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Families march for Chicago’s homicide victims: ‘To us, it’s our world’

“The violence is a Chicago problem — not just a West Side or South Side problem, but a city problem,” the Rev. Michael Pfleger said.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Michael Pfleger march with the families of gun violence victims on Friday in the Streeterville neighborhood.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Michael Pfleger march with the families of gun violence victims on Friday along Michigan Avenue.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Hundreds of grieving Chicago families closed out 2021 on Friday by remembering loved ones gunned down during the most violent year Chicago has suffered in almost three decades.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger and Rev. Jesse Jackson led a march along the Magnificent Mile, highlighting the dozens of young people who are counted among Chicago’s 820 homicide victims — the worst toll since 1995, according to the Cook County Medical examiner’s office.

At least 61 people 17 or younger were murdered in the city in 2021, according to data tracked by the Sun-Times.

But many other families who have borne the brunt of Chicago’s entrenched gun violence epidemic for years carried images of victims seemingly forgotten by investigators who are simply overwhelmed in a city that averages at least two homicides per day.

“It’s up to us to keep their names alive,” said Sonia Davis, who hasn’t gotten an update from police about the fatal shooting of her 42-year-old son, Tyrone White, since it happened in Chatham on Oct. 4, 2016.

Dozens of families whose loved ones were killed and concerned residents pray at the Water Tower in the Gold Coast neighborhood on Friday.
Dozens of families whose loved ones were killed and concerned residents pray Friday at the water tower on the Magnificent Mile.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“Nobody will remember their names if we don’t. To most people, it’s just another statistic. To us, it’s our world,” Davis said.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown on Thursday said his department solved 49.4% of murders in 2021 and pledged to hire more detectives to address the backlog of cases.

Pfleger said it’ll take more than that to tackle the issue.

“The violence is a Chicago problem — not just a West Side or South Side problem, but a city problem,” he said. “And we need all the city to be outraged and to commit to doing something about it.”

The crowd of about 200 peaceful marchers demonstrated for about an hour, marching from Tribune Tower to Water Tower Place and back.

Da’Nya Johnson, 11, said she’s taking the memory of her slain grandfather, Robert Porter Jr., with her into 2022.

“I would say that to anyone who lost someone, take what they gave you, what they taught you, and take it further,” she said. “You have to keep going. They’ll be with you.”

Contributing: Pat Nabong

Concerned resident Volanda Merrill holds a picture of Mychal Moultry Jr., who was fatally shot in September 2021.
Concerned resident Volanda Merrill holds a picture of Mychal Moultry Jr., who was fatally shot in September 2021.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times