Wednesday, October 8, 2008

'Our children and future are dying'

Gun protest at the Thompson Center. Photos by Gordon Walek.

When word came through about the latest killing of a Chicago teenager – the gun death on Sunday of Julian High School senior Kiyanna Salter on a CTA bus – it hit me as it always does, with sadness and anger that the affected families and communities must absorb this terrible hurt and somehow move on.

For the people around that young person, the pain must be debilitating. How can it not create a feeling of helplessness? The senseless killing of a child knocks down whole networks of people and institutions, or at least slows them down in whatever work or progress they might have been making. It ripples through classrooms. It travels down blocks and through neighborhoods and within families. It is personal.

And so it hurts even more to learn that Kiyanna Salter was a cousin of Southwest Organizing Project organizer Rabbi Joshua Salter, who works on safety issues on the Southwest Side. The death touched that neighborhood, too.

But violence can also galvanize responses, and two came across my desk today.

First, the Sun-Times reported that Chicago schools CEO Arne Duncan refused to accept an anti-violence award from the Illinois Coalition Against Handgun Violence. He cited the eight students killed in the first month of the school year, and left the award on the table. "I don't feel I can accept this award, not quite yet," he said. "I don't feel I've earned it."

Second, I heard from Ernie Sanders in Auburn Gresham, who alerted me to a gun-control protest planned by members of St. Sabina Parish at 11 a.m. this Friday, October 10, at the Thompson Center. This is a return visit after a similar rally on September 24 (photos) and obviously just as needed.

Below, the notice of the protest. The second paragraph packs a punch.

"Our Children and Future are Dying"

"In response to 3 more of our children being killed due to gun violence we will meet on Friday at The Thompson Center from 11am to 12pm.

"It is still our mission to have "Common Sense Gun Laws" enacted in this state. This school year, 2008-2009, has already seen Chicago Public Schools lose 11 students. Understand we have only completed one month of school, and we have lost 1/3 of a classroom.

"Please help us get the word out, raise awareness, and put an end to the destruction of our children, our future. If you need to ride the bus to the rally please call the Rectory at 773-483-4300, the bus will be leaving the church at 10 am."

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