Peace rally as school year ends
June 15, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- It's the first night of summer break for Chicago Public School students and that's triggered a community effort to try to keep kids safe.
Their pastor is encouraging them to act on their faith outside the church, so on the steps outside St. Sabina tonight hundreds gathered to try to make a difference on the eve of what they hope will not be another weekend filled with violence in Chicago.
"This is not just a rally or just a march," said Fr. Michael Pfleger. "This is a gathering of people who are making a decision that they will be peace-makers in the city of Chicago."
Parishioners are joined by police and school leaders as well as victims and their relatives who have vowed to make a difference. Myrna Roman lost her son, Manuel, to gun violence. Now she worries about his younger brother.
"I want him to grow up," said Roman. "I don't know what we can do to stop what's happening."
Father Pfleger is challenging people to stand up and be a voice for peace rather than rely on police. But Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy says he is accountable for the violence like the shooting of an off-duty officer sitting on his patio early this morning. He was released from a hospital after suffering bullet wounds in both legs.
"This is going to be a big struggle because there's a lot of problems," McCarthy said. "Let's accept our accountability and let's make a difference."
Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean Claude Brizard is promising to teach better conflict mediation skills to keep kids from resorting to violence.
"This is not just schools or police," Brizard said. "Everybody's got to get involved with this."
Father Pfleger says one way to stop the violence is to remove guns from the equation. So he is offering $100 for every gun turned in next Saturday at St. Sabina.
local, john garcia
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