Rev. Jesse Jackson meets with Simeon students still mourning shooting deaths of two classmates

Jackson also offered to broker peace between Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “They’re talking past each other...let’s talk it out in private and not in public,,” Jackson said Thursday.

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Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks outside Simeon Career Academy in Chatham Thursday morning, Oct. 7, 2021.

Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks outside Simeon Career Academy in Chatham Thursday morning.

Mark Capapas/Sun-Times

Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday met with students at Simeon Career Academy in Chatham where students are still mourning the deaths of two classmates killed in separate shootings last month.

“Somebody in school knows the boys who killed the other two boys, they know them,” Jackson told reporters outside the school, noting that he urged students to speak up.

“They must tell somebody. For example, if they know there’s a gun in somebody’s car or locker, the gun’s not there to shoot rabbits,” he said.

Simeon freshman Kentrell McNeal, 15, was killed when he and a friend were ambushed in a McDonald’s parking lot in Hyde Park. The 14-year-old with him was seriously wounded. Hours earlier, another Simeon student, Jamari Williams, also 15, was shot and killed minutes after school let out. He loved playing football and, like Kentrell, had used sports as a refuge from the violence around him.

Jackson said Simeon students told him they were concerned about being targeted for sharing information with authorities.

“If they tell it, will they be protected? Should they tell it? These are real questions with them. What should they do?” Jackson said.

Jackson also said he’d like to meet with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to bring the two together after disagreements were aired publicly this week. 

Lightfoot said the city could be “sent into chaos” if Foxx doesn’t hold shooters accountable, like the ones behind a recent deadly shooting in Austin that resulted in no charges

Foxx then slammed Lightfoot for raising alarms about the case and said the mayor had her facts wrong.

“I’d like to meet with them so we can try to resolve the differences,” Jackson said. “They’re talking past each other. ... Let’s talk it out in private and not in public, [where] it creates more division within the city.”

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