Victims of gun violence demand help on all fronts

State Rep. La Shawn Ford organized a roundtable discussion downtown Tuesday to draw attention to the issue.

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Nathan Wallace, the father of Natalie Wallace, who was fatally shot during a Fourth of July party in front of her grandmother’s home the Austin neighborhood in 2020.

Nathan Wallace, the father of Natalie Wallace, who was fatally shot during a Fourth of July party in front of her grandmother’s home the Austin neighborhood in 2020.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Two days after his 7-year-old daughter Natalia was fatally shot while playing outside her grandmother’s house on the Fourth of July in 2020 in the Austin neighborhood, Nathan Wallace went back to work.

It wasn’t because he thought work would somehow numb or distract from the pain. It was because he takes care of his three other children — one of whom requires 24-hour care — and he needed the money.

“I had to do what I had to do, being a single parent,” said Wallace, who lives in Humboldt Park.

Wallace was one of half a dozen people who spoke at the Thompson Center Tuesday, demanding — often tearfully — help on a number of fronts in dealing with the city’s gun violence and the resulting trauma. They were accompanied by state Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Democrat who represents the West Side.

“We need to make sure we push resources and not continue to just talk about this as if it’s a good news clip that people are dying. But we must use every situation as a teachable moment that builds up and makes sure we get resources for the families,” Ford said. “There have been billions of dollars with the COVID pandemic and so we know there are billions of dollars in Illinois that we could use.”

Wallace said that he was able to get free counseling for his surviving kids for a couple of months but that wasn’t enough for children who witnessed the slaying of a sibling.

“Having my kids out there, seeing their little sister on the ground is beyond belief,” he said.

Angela Gregg’s 4-year-son, Mychal Moultry Jr., was in the city visiting his father during the Labor Day weekend when he was shot while getting his hair cut. Mychal was shot twice in the head and died two days later. The boy had traveled with his mother from their home in Alabama. They returned to the South a week or so later, this time with the boy in a casket, his mother said.

Gregg said she’s since quit her hospital billing job in Alabama and spends her time here, trying to help with the police investigation into Mychal’s killing and speaking to anyone who will listen about the need to strengthen penalties for those who kill children.

“You can either wither away to nothing or you can choose to fight,” she said.

In speaking to other mothers who’ve lost children to gun violence, Gregg said those grieving parents want justice but also to have their child’s story told and not forgotten.

“There is so much to be done in this city, that sometimes people simply do nothing because it’s a lot of work. It is literally grinding through it,” Gregg said.

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