ENGLEWOOD — One by one, people gathered Monday evening at the intersection of 61st Street and Halsted Street, the rain unable to keep them away.
Mothers clasped the hands of their children as men wiped rainwater from plastic chairs, all of them connected by pain and purpose. Just 48 hours before, 20-month-old Sincere Gaston had been shot to death at the intersection.
The baby was in his car seat, passing through the intersection with his mother after a Saturday trip to the laundromat, when a driver pulled up alongside them. A gunman in the car fired seven to eight shots into the passenger side and back part of the car Gaston was in.
The baby’s mother, whose head was grazed by a bullet, drove him to St. Bernard Hospital. He was pronounced dead shortly after.
Police are looking for a gray or silver-colored Infiniti sedan seen driving off after the shooting.
As detectives continue their search, they are joining residents, clergy members and local officials for Operation Wake-Up. The initiative brought the community members to the intersection Monday, where they all stood as a united front to show gun violence will no longer be tolerated.
Gaston’s parents were there, but they were too overcome with grief to stay, said Glen Brooks, Police Department director of engagement, who served as host.
“I’m sick and tired of it, and I know you all are sick and tired of it,” said Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th). “Sincere could’ve been the owner of this laundromat, Sincere could’ve been the principal of Nicholson School or Langford Academy. Sincere could’ve led the Englewood Political Task Force.
“We don’t know what Sincere’s life was, but what we do know is that his life was taken by some punks with guns that don’t know how to shoot, who to shoot or why they’re even shooting.”
Coleman thanked young activists leading the charge to keep the city streets safe, like Aleta Clark, known as Englewood Barbie, and Ja’Mal Green. They are among several young leaders spearheading Hit the Hood, a peace initiative created to stop violence.
Clark, who was born and raised in Englewood, expressed her disappointment over the relatively low turnout. But as she spoke, crowds began to form on the corners, neighbors young and old stopping to listen.
“The community should really be bothered by this, just like we were bothered by George Floyd,” Clark said. “When we were fighting for George Floyd, we were fired up. The people heard us, they saw us. Kids been getting killed left and right since that happened, and no one sees us anymore. Where did that fight go?”
“I’m tired of hearing about who’s got the ‘hood. Didn’t nobody have that 1-year-old yesterday.”
Clark will lead a peace march 5 p.m. Friday from her safe house, 6427 S. Ashland Ave., to 63rd and Halsted streets, where a car parade will begin.
Seventh District Cmdr. Larry Snelling told the crowd his officers have been out every night in an attempt to end the gun violence.
“You have no idea how many guns they’ve recovered off the streets. And it’s still not enough. The police can’t do this alone,” Snelling said. “We need you. The community needs you.”
And it’s on the community to “circle around those who speak up,” Brooks told Block Club.
“What we’re seeing is no different than any situation where we’ve had people afraid to do the right thing. They have to be loved, supported, and cared for,” Brooks said. “But right now? We need to hold those accountable who are killing people with guns.”
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