Group uses lights to promote peace
June 5, 2009 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Friday nights in Chicago can mark the beginning of often violent weekends.
Now through a project called Friday Night Lights, one group is hoping bright lights will promote peace.
"You have to go out and make peace happen," said Chris Butler.
Chris Butler runs the Chicago Peace Campaign, a network of churches and community groups targeting violent neighborhoods.
"I'm not here to tell you that I can convince the first gang banger to put down his gun, but if I can convince you to pick up a rake, or a paintbrush or a flashlight, then where you are raking, or shining your flashlight or painting, nobody's gonna get shot," said Butler.
This past Friday night, Butler and a group of activists went to an abandoned lot in Englewood and lit it up.
The night before five people were shot just a mile away.
"The most dangerous places are the places that are the most in need of the light," said Butler.
Englewood's Chicago Embassy Church is the peace campaign's headquarters.
"This is our neighborhood as much as it is anybody else's neighborhood," said Bishop Peecher.
"We are and we can be a community of peace," said Pop Jackson.
Pastor Phil Jackson is also organizing Friday Night Lights events in North Lawndale.
"You have to get out and do life with people, you have to be in the mud of it," said Jackson.
Just as it gets dark the peace campaign arrives at the corner cutting the darkness with their headlights, then with flood lights.
"We pray that you would cover this corner and this vicinity with a canopy of peace," said Jackson.
"I've been living here for four years and it's pretty bad, you can't let your kids come outside all the time," said Natuschka Dorsey.
And neighbors told their stories of violence.
Phyllis King Smith was driving to the airport, saw the lights and stopped.
"It just hit home to me," said King Smith. "Because I'm still out here trying to not let other parents go through what I'm going through."
Kids started coming outside to play and drivers honked as the group flashed peace signs long into the night.
Butler will be out in Englewood again on Friday night and says he'll continue to run Friday Night Lights events throughout the summer.
For more information on Chicago's Peace Campaign, visit their Web site: www.peace4chicago.com
local, kathy brock
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