CeaseFire Week 2013: 18th Annual Walk for Peace

Written by Emily Wachowiak

Myrta Cruz, a longtime resident of Humboldt Park, entered the parking lot of Richard Yates Elementary School with a homemade sign in hand. On it were pictures of four gun-violence victims, including Cruz’s own son and grandson. “She’s why we’re here,” said Marisol Giraud, a program assistant for Allied Local Service Organizations (ALSO), CeaseFire’s partner organization in Humboldt Park and Hermosa. 

Myrta Cruz

About 150 men, women, and children joined Myrta on Saturday, June 8 for the 18th Annual Walk for Peace, the kick-off event for CeaseFire Week 2013. This year’s theme—Partners Against Violence in Our Streets, Homes and Schools: Men and Women Working Together—was exemplified in the scope of organizations that banded together at the event. ALSO and CeaseFire staff from around the city were joined by representatives from Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, and the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network.

Dawn Dalton, who spoke on behalf of Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network (The Network), emphasized that violence prevention starts in the home. “When you’re not safe at home, you turn to the streets,” she said, going on to to praise the collaboration between CeaseFire and The Network, which has enabled Violence Interrupters to connect victims of domestic violence to vital local resources.

Lori CrowderLori Crowder, Executive Director of ALSO and emcee for the event, also praised this partnership and stressed the importance of “power sharing,” not just amongst social service organizations, but also amongst the men and women who serve as family and community leaders. Jorge Roque, a CeaseFire Violence Interrupter in Little Village, elJorge Roqueaborated on this theme as he called upon young people to use their influence on the streets to model positive behaviors, noting that “violence begets violence, and violence starts in the home.”

The event’s diverse roster of speakers included State Representative Toni Berrios, Reverend Autry Phillips of the Auburn Gresham CeaseFire site, and Judith Kotze of South Africa’s Inclusive and Affirming Ministries. Richard Yates principal Pamela Green led a heartfelt tribute to Francis Colon, a college-bound Robert Clemente High student who was gunned down in February.

Rep. Berrios, Lori Crowder, and other attendees celebrated the reduction in violence that CeaseFire and its partner organizations have achieved in Humboldt Park and Logan Square in the last few years, although the deaths of Francis Colon and Myrta’s grandson, who was killed just last year, attest to the work that still needs to be done. But Crowder is optimistic: “My hope for the next year is that we are able today to plant a seed that inspires CeaseFire sites to begin to think and work holistically, to begin to really develop and access deep community partnerships and be credible messengers. […] These [interrupters] have an incredible opportunity to prevent violence at multiple levels, not just in the streets, but in homes and schools, too.”

Grassroots

CeaseFire would like to thank numerous partners, including Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, and the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, Groupon Grassroots and RMK Photography for their support of this event.

Photos credited to RMK Photography

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