Aréanah Preston: ‘Full of life, dreams, big goals’

The funeral for Officer Preston was, first and foremost, a tribute to her life. But it was also another grim reminder, as if Chicago needed one, of the work to be done to end gun violence in this city.

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A Chicago police officer wears pins with images of Chicago Police Officer Aréanah Preston outside Trinity United Church of Christ before a funeral service for Officer Preston, Wednesday, May 17.

A Chicago police officer wears pins with images of Officer Aréanah Preston outside Trinity United Church of Christ before the funeral service for Preston on Wednesday, May 17.

AP Pool Photo

It was another horrific and senseless act of gun violence in this city when Chicago Police Officer Aréanah Preston was killed near her Avalon Park home on May 6, in a confrontation with assailants who police say were on a robbery spree to get money for a barbecue.

On Wednesday, hundreds of mourners gathered at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th St., to pay their respects to Preston, a dedicated young officer who, as this editorial board noted last week, had so much to offer the city.

Her death is a loss, to her mother, family, friends, fellow officers and the rest of Chicago. Gun violence has taken far too many lives, and this time it was an energetic and dedicated 24-year-old who wanted to make a difference in law enforcement.

Preston’s funeral was first and foremost a tribute to her life. Her fellow officers rose to their feet in her honor during the service, and wore yellow ribbons — Preston’s favorite color was yellow — in her memory. Mayor Brandon Johnson, Interim Police Supt. Fred Waller and former Mayor Lori Lightfoot were among those in attendance. Chicagoans who were not there in person were undoubtedly with the mourners, especially Preston’s mother and sisters, in spirit and solidarity.

Editorial

Editorial

The funeral was also a reminder — not that any more are needed — that there is so much work to be done to end the scourge of gun violence in this city. If we fail, more tragedies — a child hit by a stray bullet, a young person injured in a mass shooting, a police officer murdered in uniform while arriving home from their shift — will surely occur.

Preston was dedicated to building the trust that is sorely needed between police and the community, especially communities of color, in order to reach the common goal of public safety for everyone.

Our hearts go out to Preston’s mother, Dionne Mhoon. It’s difficult to imagine the pain she must feel losing a beloved daughter. But it’s easy to admire the strength and grace she showed when she spoke at the funeral, as well as when she said recently that she “really felt sorry” for the four suspects charged with her murder.

The lives of those young men, ages 16 to 19, are now ruined, for selfish and inexcusable reasons. All four of the teens had previous robbery convictions as juveniles, another indication of the work to be done to stop crime and recidivism.

Mhoon told those gathered on Wednesday that her daughter was a “kid full of life, dreams, big goals and wanted to make major changes.”

It’s up to Chicago now to make change happen.

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