Our Pledge To You


What are we to tell our children about this gun violence?

Police investigate a shooting night on the Far South Side in 2014. File Photo. | Alex Wroblewski / Sun-Times

Police investigate a shooting night on the Far South Side in 2014. File Photo. | Alex Wroblewski / Sun-Times

On Sunday morning, the streets are eerily quiet.

Only the dog walkers crawl out from under the covers as soon as the sun comes up.

It will take a couple of more hours for the Sunday-go-to-church traffic. By then, the bus stops will be filled with stragglers making their way home from Saturday night.

I like Sunday quiet.

I share that peace with other dog owners, runners and cyclists.

But this past Sunday, I got a rude awakening.

We were driving west on 71st Street, on our way to church, when we saw a police van was blocking the entrance onto Merrill.

We didn’t have to wait for the evening news to know what that meant. Someone had been shot, probably killed.

We drove past in silence. Yellow tape marked off the entire block.

My 11-year-old granddaughter, riding in the back seat, didn’t say a word.

It crossed my mind that I have never talked to her about the shootings.

In fact, her mother won’t even turn on a news channel when the girl is in the room. She doesn’t want her to hear that a two-year-old boy was killed in a shooting and a bullet killed an 18-year-old college-bound student during a vigil.

It is no wonder that President Donald Trump is once again calling out the city.

On Monday, while speaking to the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Orlando, Trump said he was “immediately” sending Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Chicago.

The president also said the city should implement a “stop and frisk” policy, apparently unaware that the Chicago Police Department already conducts “stop-and-frisk,” under an agreement it worked out with the ACLU.

As with past threats of federal intervention, Mayor Rahm Emanuel isn’t biting.

“The idea of what President Trump is talking about is not only not welcome — it’s antithetical to what we’re working on,” Emmanuel said.

He would, however, welcome help in the form of ATF, DEA and FBI agents to “take down gang leadership,” and stop the “drug trade.”

Frankly, I don’t know how that would have stopped the shooting that took the life of James Garrett, the 18-year-old fatally shot Saturday night.

Garrett was at a memorial vigil on the far South Side when a man and a woman each pulled out guns and began shooting.

James Garrett | Photo provided by family

James Garrett | Photo provided by family

It’s not like police officers aren’t finding the illegal guns.

As of July, Chicago police had taken more than 5,000 illegal guns off Chicago streets.

Meanwhile, parents are left trying to not only protect their children from the shooting, but also trying to explain why it is happening.

“In older adolescents and young adults, it is important to discuss the social/political and moral issues about gun violence,” according to an article posted on the “Parents” website that cited experts in the field.

“Reassuring our children in these turbulent and violent times is a paramount question for parenting. Older children need that reassurance just as often and vigorously as younger children,” said Dr. John Mayer, a clinical psychologist, according to the article.

But how do you reassure a child that you can keep them safe when toddlers are being shot?

Unfortunately, real life is like the PG-13 movies pre-teens aren’t allowed to watch because they aren’t appropriate.

There are just some things you don’t want an innocent child to see, and violence is one of them.

Later that night, I learned it was a 65-year-old woman that was shot and critically wounded as she drove her car in the 7000 block of South Merrill.

When there is a mass shooting, counselors show up to try and explain the senseless tragedy.

And after a school shooting, the building is closed down and survivors are rushed to places of safety.

But there is little help for the survivors of a shooter on an ordinary street at 10:24 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

When we left church, the yellow tape and police vans with flashing blue lights were still blocking the area where the shooting occurred.

A mother, her children walking alongside, passed by without stopping to take a look.

There are lots of things that need fixing in the city, but I can’t think of anything more urgent than reducing this gun violence.