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Connecticut shooting victims honoroed as gun control debated

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Like the rest of the nation, in some way most Chicago families have been touched deeply by the shooting tragedy in Connecticut and many decided to show their solidarity with the child victims of Newtown by holding a vigil in a place dear to Chicago children.

The vigil took place at a children's playground not unlike the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School and many in attendance Saturday night could relate personally to the loss of a child.

They didn't know the victims in Connecticut. They didn't have to.

"We feel your loss," said Pamela Hester-Jones. "And we love you. And we stand here tonight for all your children."

"These children will never have a Christmas coming up in a few days," said Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Mothers, siblings, friends of children killed in Chicago gun violence.

They say what happened in Newtown has long been happening in this town.

"I'm at 20 loved-ones that has been shot down like a dog by assault weapons," said Camiella Williams. "The time is now."

They were joined by public officials, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who called on Congress to reinstate a federal assault weapons ban.

"It's time for Congress to have a vote of conscience," Emanuel said. "It is time for a vote of conscience."

"I call upon my colleagues in the Congress to come out from their hiding. Come out!" said U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago).

Earlier, at an event honoring Illinois service members, the governor also called on Congress to act.

"I do believe we need to have a ban on assault weapons in our state, in our country and also these high-capacity ammunition magazines," Quinn said.

"I could tell you what a meaningful response is: a national recognition that there has to be some sort of tracking, not even gun control, accountability for gun owners," said Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

Back in Union Park, blue and pink balloons honor Newtown's young victims.

Their tragic deaths, said those at the vigil must be mourned with more than tears.

"All those elected officials just talk about how horrible Connecticut was and just mourn and stand up in great public squares and speak about it. But do nothing about it, your mourning is shallow and it's phony," said Father Michael Pfleger.

In the coming days, there will no doubt be more vigils, more tributes to the victims and more debate over how to keep it all from happening again.

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