Dozens of events across the city Friday evening kicked off a Chicago anti-violence push called, “A Summer of Faith and Action.”
The events were spearheaded by churches, community groups and city agencies and the activities included community marches, prayer vigils, block club parties, “positive loitering” and various sports activities aimed at teens.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel appeared at three of the events, telling a crowd in Pilsen, “Our children in the city of Chicago deserve a childhood with laughter, a childhood with play, a childhood that replaces the familiarity of gunfire with the familiarity of friendship.”
He added, “I want you to know that across Chicago, at over 200 places . . . people are meeting together like this and reclaiming the streets of Chicago as our own.”
After Emanuel spoke, the Rev. Brendan Curran of St. Pius V Church vowed to hold a block party on the church plaza every Friday through the summer.
Pilsen was the mayor’s second stop.
But at his first stop in Woodlawn at 63rd and Vernon, his speech was marred by two hecklers in a crowd of about 300. When they started to shout, the mayor tried to laugh it off and talk over the hecklers, but after about a minute, he wound up his speech and left.
One of the hecklers, N’Dana Carter, said she intended to disrupt the event. “The mayor has a problem in the black community. He is closing our mental health centers and schools,” she said.
A spokeswoman said that the mayor left on schedule.
The mayor, however, arrived to a friendly reception in Woodlawn, shaking hands and hugging many people who showed up. Before speaking, he viewed a performance of the South Shore Drill Team.
Among the crowd was Kimberly Grayson, who said, “I’m here to protest guns killing our kids, drug dealers standing on the corner disrespecting our children and trying to influence them that this is how they should live,” she said.
Grayson attends the nearby Apostolic Church of God. Its pastor, the Rev. Byron Brazier, along with another pastor, the Rev. Corey Brooks, had brought many of their members to the event.
At the mayor’s third event, he was joined by former NBA star and Chicago native Isiah Thomas on the West Side at Chicago and Pulaski.