Community activists, including Jahmal Cole with My Block, My Hood, My City, Cleopatra Draper with United Pullman, Ashley Munson, William Calloway, Joseph Williams of Mr. Dad's Fathers Club, Berto Aguayo with #IncreaseThePeace and Jedidiah Brown with JUSTICE are behind the Hit The Hood initiative to stop violence on Fourth of July weekend. Credit: Jamie Nesbitt Golden/ Block Club Chicago

ENGLEWOOD — My Block My Hood My City is launching a new initiative to quell gun violence over the Fourth of July weekend.

The peace initiative, called Hit the Hood, comes from a collaboration of community leaders and activists. The effort will include a weekend of activities, including a march. It will begin Friday, according to a press conference the group held Monday in Englewood.

My Block My Hood My City will also award $50,000 in peace grants to aid any person, block, or group in preventing violence during the holiday weekend. According to the organization’s website, they will fund “up to $5,000 per request and assist in providing resources for #HitTheHood.”

Individuals and groups can apply for a $5,000 Hit The Hood grant here.

“Things don’t get better until you get better,” Jahmal Cole, founder of My Block My Hood My City, said at the press conference. “So instead of saying the city’s messed up, the government’s messed up, the police’s messed up — what’s something simple you can do that’ll have a positive impact on your block?”

The announcement comes after another deadly weekend in Chicago as 63 people were shot and 16 killed, including two young children. A 10-year-old in Logan Square was killed Saturday after a stray bullet come through an apartment window. A 1-year-old baby was shot and killed in Englewood the same day.

Cleopatra Draper, founder of United Pullman, said that the concept of “hitting the hood” is to call on people to “put the guns down” and “save lives.”

“We’re fighting through three pandemics, one of which is severe epidemic that is really vested in Chicago, and that’s gun violence,” Draper said.

She hopes Hit The Hood is a show of unity between several Black millennial-led organizations moves certain local public officials to act.

“It’s heartbreaking, and I don’t see the current leadership doing enough. So we’ve got it,” she said.

Draper said community organizers with the initiative organized a weekend of “positive festivities.” Starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the organization will host activities in various Chicago neighborhoods.  

The group will also host a peaceful march Friday to involve community members in the fight against gun violence. The organizers will also travel through different neighborhoods throughout the weekend “to increase the peace,” Draper said.

“It takes a village. We are just the organizers. It will take the community to stand with us,” Draper said.

People interested in volunteering for Hit the Hood can sign up on My Block My Hood My City’s website.

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