Young people stage ‘die in’ outside City Hall calling for more youth resources to prevent gun violence
The group said a change in curfew wasn’t the answer. More resources, like after-school programming and community centers that stay open late, would help prevent gun violence, they said.
A group of about 24 young people laid down and pretended they were shooting victims outside City Hall on Monday afternoon before calling on the city to put more resources into youth programming that will help prevent gun violence.
“This is important to me because as a Black youth in the city I have lost friends and family members to violence,” said DeShawn Smith, 21, a leader with Communities United, a group that promotes racial justice.
“We need after-hours community centers,” said Jermal Ray, 17, of West Garfield Park. “No kid should have to suffer. No mother or father should have to see their son or daughter gone before they start to live.”
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The group called on city leaders to provide an array of resources after laying quietly on the sidewalk for about a minute in white T-shirts covered in fake “blood.”
Laqueanda Reneau, an organizer with Communities United, said the prospect of city leaders pushing up curfew for those under 18 years old left many young people feeling criminalized through no fault of their own.
The measure, an executive order by Mayor Lori Lightfoot that was delayed in the City Council on Monday, was in response to an uptick of gun violence downtown, including a recent shooting last week near The Bean at Millennium Park left Seandell Holliday, 16, dead.
“We’re telling children that they do not belong downtown,” Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), who attended the gathering along with state Rep. La Shawn Ford, said of the proposed curfew change. “You’re saying it’s for everyone else, except our youth.”
Several attendees suggested The Bean should be closed for a few days in remembrance of Holliday’s death.
“I was there two days after the event and I saw tours with no knowledge of it taking pictures and enjoying their day. His life mattered and he existed,” said Paris Tree, 28, of Austin.
“Seandell Holliday took his last breath at the same place the city is letting people go take pictures with a smile as if nothing has happened,” said Marques Watts, 18, of West Ridge.
Watts said the proposed curfew change seemed like the “city was giving up on us,” and more after-school programming would be a better reaction to Holliday’s death.