Our Pledge To You


A nod to parents who turned in sons wanted for questioning

Surveillance video shows a group that police say approached Pamela Johnson and her boyfriend on the lakefront. Johnson ran onto Lake Shore Drive to get away and was struck by a truck. She died. Provided photo.

The thugs have found a new way to kill.

For the five months ending May 31, Chicago suffered 243 murders, a 48-percent increase from the same time period in 2015, the Sun-Times reports. There were 318 shootings last month. Horrendous, but the same old, same old.

On May 29, Pamela Johnson was out enjoying a sultry night on the north lakefront. A crew of bad actors approached, her male companion later told police, to rob the couple. One brandished a gun. The couple ran for their lives, and onto Lake Shore Drive. Johnson, 32, was hit by a truck.


I wondered: Who are people so craven that they harass a woman to such a heinous death? Where are their parents?

Then, a glimmering sliver of hope emerged from our bloody month of May.

Surveillance cameras nearby produced images. The Chicago Police Department released them, and asked the public to help identify them.

“At least five teens seen in the photos released by police were questioned for several hours Wednesday by detectives,” ABC 7 Chicago reported. Their parents turned them in, community activist Andrew Holmes told the station.

“So many cases, when you see a picture on there, parents don’t want to be bothered. … So these parents, and I take my hat off to them, again, they did the right thing and come in and just clear the record,” Holmes said.

Too many Chicago parents “don’t want to be bothered.” Or they are intimidated by their own children. Or are on drugs, or in jail. Or overwhelmed by the crime, poverty and desperation in their neighborhoods.

There is nothing harder than being a parent. Except being a parent of a child caught in the lure of the streets.

But these parents stepped up and deserve our eternal applause and gratitude. Candace Hunter, my high school classmate, nailed it on Facebook.

“It took great courage and I am sure, much pain, to recognize your child on a video as a thug, talk to them, convince them to turn themselves in and accompany them to the police station,” Hunter wrote in reaction to the news reports.

“Often on FB, there are many who publicly shame parents for what they haven’t done. I want to stand for those parents who do the right thing. No matter how painful.”

If we all stand for them, the pain can begin to end.

Some of their friends told the news media it’s all a misunderstanding, that the wrong people have been fingered.

If they are innocent, let them be.

Let’s listen to another Chicago parent. One who knows most every cranny of our ugly streets, and knows how perilous it is to raise a child in Chicago.

“The violence in Chicago is just not a police issue. It’s a Chicago issue,” Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said last week in a speech to the City Club of Chicago.

“Everybody has a stake in this. And the first place that I would start, especially in the minority communities, is stressing that parents have to be parents.”

On Friday, Semaj Waters, 18, was charged with felony murder, mob action and attempted armed robbery. A second man, Devonte M. Dodd, 20, was charged over the weekend. It’s not clear if their parents got involved in the case.

Still, we must support parents with the courage, and heart, to do the right thing.

Email:  lauraswashington@aol.com

Follow Laura Washington on Twitter: @MediaDervish