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Anti-violence group robbed of food, computers and supplies days before remote learning academy to open

The founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killings said donations have already started coming in to replace the stolen goods: “While it’s heartbreaking that this happened, it’s like, ‘Wow, look at how much good is left in the world.’”

The Mothers Against Senseless Killings Academy neighborhood school at 79th and Stewart, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. The buildings were broken into and all of their school supplies including dozens of computers and tablets were stolen. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
The Mothers Against Senseless Killings Academy neighborhood school in Gresham, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. The buildings were broken into and all of their school supplies including dozens of computers and tablets were stolen.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The Mothers Against Senseless Killings anti-violence group was gearing up for the first day of school, which is less than a week away.

The group had just finished placing the final touches on four metal shipping containers that were set to become the organization’s first classrooms for students in need of technology and educational support during a remote learning school year.

But this week, the classrooms were broken into and many educational supplies — including computers — were taken, the group said in a Facebook post. Other things like diapers and snacks were also taken.

“DAMN! SOMEBODY BROKE INTO THE CONTAINERS!?!?!?” Tamar Manasseh, founder of the group, posted publicly on Facebook Thursday afternoon.

Pictures posted show windows broken, empty snack boxes, distressed floors and the framing for an air conditioner ripped off the wall.

Manasseh told the Sun-Times in July the group was excited to get the school opened in Greshem — a project that has been in the works since the group’s inception. At the time, 60 kids were already enrolled, and she was hoping for more.

The classrooms were set to open at the same time as Chicago Public Schools, Sept. 8. Students would have had internet access, tutoring and supervision while their parents worked.

Reached by phone Thursday night, Manasseh said the break-in occurred sometime Thursday morning or Wednesday night, and while upsetting, it was indicative of what some people need to do to survive in the city.

“I feel like whoever broke in had to be somebody that was really down on their luck because the city has left behind so many people,” she said. “So even if we found out exactly who the person was that did it, we would still help them even though they stole from us.”

Manessah said her heart was broken when she realized the group’s snacks had been stolen because the person who broke in “probably needed the food.”

The stolen property can be replaced, Manessah said, and people have already started sending donations to the group, even buying tablets students need for remote learning.

“People have really stepped up. People who support us, the good people of this city, the good people who follow MASK on social media have stepped up, and they’ve been donating devices all day long,” she said.

“That is that is the silver lining in all of this. While I’m really upset, while it’s heartbreaking that this happened, it’s like, ‘Wow, look at how much good is left in the world.’”

Kendra Snow, the youth program director for MASK, posted on Facebook that while she was mad at discovering the thefts, she later went “to sleep overjoyed at the support and love that we have received. I wish that I could thank everyone personally.”

This is how my day started but I am going to sleep overjoyed at the support and love that we have received!! I wish I...

Posted by Kendra Snow on Thursday, September 3, 2020