NORTH LAWNDALE — Black and Latinx mothers held a vigil Friday in solidarity with the nationwide movement against police brutality in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.
The show of kinship between Black and Latinx mothers in Little Village and North Lawndale Friday were the latest display of unity with Black Lives Matter protests. The action came days after leaders and organizers condemned isolated acts of violence between Black and Brown communities, and called on partnerships to bridge relationships on the West Side.
On Sunday, Little Village neighbors organized to protect businesses from looters. Some of the men who guarded businesses were members of the Latin Kings street gang, according to local leaders.
While most neighbors have organized to support “each other in unimaginable ways,” a few Latino men indiscriminately targeted Black Chicagoans in the neighborhood, said Little Village Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd).
On Friday, one group of moms began at the historic activist church St. Agatha Parish, 3147 W. Douglas Blvd., before marching to the Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez mural at the corner of Ogden and Lawndale Avenues. A separate group marched to the mural from St. Agnes of Bohemia Parish in Little Village, 2651 S. Central Park Ave.
The vigil was organized in collaboration between several churches and community groups including the West Side Justice Center, Access to Justice, and the Resurrection Project.
“Today is an opportunity for us to come together as communities of color that are impacted by violence, to say we have to put an end to the violence, we have to put an end to the siege on our children, on women, on our partners, on our communities,” said Tanya Woods, executive director for the West Side Justice Center.
Too often, mothers on the West Side are forced to mourn the losses of their children due to police violence, incarceration and street crime.
“We are here fighting together to make sure no mother has to go through the pain of losing their children because of racism,” said Alma Sigala of the Resurrection Project.
Lawndale resident Heather Johnson said moms in the area have been trying to improve police relationships with the neighborhoods.
“We’re actually trying to bridge the gap between police and our men,” she said.
And now that tensions have been stoked by looting, vandalism and violence, the mothers have the added duty of mediating conflicts between men in each community.
“Even the men who may want a truce or may want peace, they’re afraid to approach the other because they may meet gun violence,” said Leatisha Bailey, a West Side mom.
“So if we can intercede and stand in the place of our men and say, ‘Hey, our men want peace’… there’s less of a chance that we will be met with gun violence,” she said.
Bailey said too many young people in North Lawndale grow up without a father because of gun violences. Street crime and police brutality create cycles of generational trauma that leave people fearful of law enforcement and deprived of opportunities and strong role models, she said.
“It causes our mothers to struggle alone. So we need to show the world that when you abuse or arrest a Black man, it doesn’t just affect the Black man,” she said. “There’s another generation of children that now automatically hate police and are afraid of the police. And the cycle continues.”
Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.
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