Comedians condemn gun violence in Englewood: ‘This is no laughing matter’
“We are tired of our babies dying, we are tired of innocent lives being taken, we are just tired of our community not being able to live to the fullest of its ability,” comedian Correy Bell told the crowd.
About two dozen comedians with roots in Chicago came together in Englewood Wednesday afternoon to condemn the spate of gun violence that has claimed the lives of many young children and innocent bystanders in recent weeks.
Rev. Leslie Sanders, of Hope Presbyterian Church of Chicago, 1354 W. 61st St., hosted the event that called for people to put down the guns and to speak up if they have information about any shootings that have taken place.
“Yeah, I am a comedian, but this is no laughing matter,” said Correy Bell. “We are tired of our babies dying, we are tired of innocent lives being taken, we are just tired of our community not being able to live to the fullest of its ability.”
Bell said it was important for her and the other Chicago comedians to encourage residents to stand up against gun violence. Many of them, Bell said, still live and work in communities impacted by gun violence.
“We perform in these same neighborhoods that we are ducking in, and we have to got to be able to say, ‘Listen, put the guns down,’” Bell said. “This is our neighborhood, this is our village. And if this is the village that’s supposed to raise these babies, we have to be first responders and be responsible. [We have to] hold the people accountable that are shooting and killing our babies.”
Leon Rogers, a comedian and radio personality, stressed it was important to come together and point out the people who are committing these crimes.
“It’s very disheartening and very appalling when we have to sit up and talk about the numbers of people being shot in our communities,” said Rogers, who emphasized he was referring to “Black and brown” communities.
Last weekend 64 people were shot, including a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy.
Comedian “Baldhead” Philips grew up just blocks away from where the event took place and stressed the need to provide alternatives for those firing guns in the neighborhood.
“You got to give these other brothers something to do,” Phillips said. “You can’t just tell them to put the guns down and you’re not giving them nothing to put in their hands to replace it with.”
Phillips, a survivor of gun violence who has worked with anti-violence groups, said the cycle of shootings can only end with more support and programming for residents.
“They need training, they need resources. A lot of them do want to go back to school but they want to be in a safe situation,” Philips said. “You cannot tell somebody to change just by virtue of telling them to change.”
He also wants to see more neighborhood block clubs formed and said police officers should walk the beat more to better understand what people are going through.
Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of Chicago’s South and West sides.