Chicagoans march to end gun violence

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Gun violence against Chicago's children had many people taking to the streets Saturday. Several marches were held during which demonstrators called for a stop to the violence.

There are as many ways to express outrage over the killings of young children as there are people concerned about the violence.

When demonstrators painted their sign, 32 was the number of Chicago Public School students who have been murdered. But, by the time they marched, the number climbed to 33.

"We're tired of losing our children and we want to see change," said marcher Bernada Baker.

"Adults need to take our rightful position, that's why we're here," said Casandra Kay, another marcher.

From Grant Park demonstrators marched, carrying 196 crosses to represent the number of Chicago school children killed in the last decade.

"These aren't just crosses," said Phillip Jackson of the Black Star Project. "Imagine, some schools don't have this many students! Can you imagine whole school wiped out? That's what we're looking at."

In Chicago's southern suburb of Riverdale, 20 miles south of Grant Park, the Reverend Jesse Jackson marched on Chuck's Gun shop for the second time in a month. He came to face with those who support gun owners' rights.

"Every law that is passes is a loss of freedom," said one gun rights advocate.

"Semi-automatic weapons are weapons of mass destruction," Jackson said.

Inside Chuck's Gun Shop, it was business as usual. Owner John Riggio says protestors are missing the point: He doesn't decide who can buy a gun: Lawmakers do.

"You can't deny someone whether black white, purple, young old. It's just like hiring practices. It's the state's call, that's it," said Riggio.

Mayor Daley also led an anti-violence march Saturday. Among other things, he said he'd like to see stricter licensing for gun sellers.

"If a manicurist in a hair salon and a barber need a license, why can't there be one for gun dealers in the suburbs?" the mayor said.

Reverend Jackson concedes Chuck's Gun Shop has not broken any laws that he's aware of. And that's the point, according to Jackson: He says his repeated marches on the gun shop are less about that particular business than they are about the laws that allow gun shops to sell firearms the way they do.

Gun violence rally also held north of Chicago

Another rally against gun violence took place in Evanston Saturday morning.

Parents and other concerned citizens staged a "lie in" in honor of the Virginia Tech shooting victims. Thirty-two people dressed in black, stretched out on the ground in honor of those killed. There were also survivors of gun violence in attendance, including 19-year-old Ryann Brown, whose mother wants more to be done to help survivors.

"I think more needs to be done about controlling the guns and how they flow into our cities and our young people get hold of them. Because it's a life-changing event, and I don't think that people understand all the things that happen after someone has been shot and injured," said Kim Johnson, Ryann Brown's mother.

In addition to the Virginia Tech victims, demonstrators also wanted to call attention to the dozens of people, shot and killed every day.

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