CHICAGO — South Side activist Hal Baskin has died.
Baskin, 66, was a gang leader in his youth but ended his ties to gangs when he was in his early 20s. He ended up becoming a prominent anti-violence activist in Englewood and a father to three children.
Baskin died Friday morning.
“We have lost one of the finest Chicagoans, Hal Baskin. Hal was a longtime friend and ally in the ongoing work of peace-building in Englewood and the wider South Side,” Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) wrote in an email to constituents. “He was taken from us far too soon, but his work has never been more urgent. He was unique, inspirational and irreplaceable.”
Baskin ran a community center called People Educated Against Crime in Englewood, or P.E.A.C.E., for more than 20 years, breaking up gangs and helping people in the South Side neighborhood find jobs and other opportunities.
Baskin’s own life had been touched by the city’s violence: His brother, nephew and great-nephew lost their lives in shootings. His son, Hal Baskin Jr., was shot and wounded in 2013.
But Baskin remained committed to preventing violence in Englewood and using his own life as an example for young people int he neighborhood.
“When I grew up, I grew up and changed so don’t hold the past against people,” Baskin said in 2016, when a street was named in his honor. “I made mistakes, but can I make up for my mistakes after 40 years of being involved in the community.”