WOODLAWN — As young activists marched through Washington Park and Woodlawn Saturday, they paused at intersections where people close to activist Nita Tennyson lost their lives to gun violence.
Dozens of people joined GoodKids MadCity and Love Train in a march for peace on King Drive from 64th to 53rd streets amid a summer plagued with gun violence — and said more policing is not the answer.
The list of friends 22-year-old Tennyson was marching for is long.
She was marching for 11-year-old Takiya Holmes, fatally shot on King Drive in February 2017, for “Camerie” and “friends that were made family — Orin, Dijon, David, Jerry, Harry and Tramen,” all lost to gun violence.
A poster showed the faces of Tennyson’s friends who have been killed since 2016, ranging in age from 11 to 24. It read: “Enough is enough. I’m tired of seeing my friends in caskets and urns!”
“I show love for every person I love that is no longer here and this list is long,” she said. “Which is why I’m saying enough is enough.”
GoodKids MadCity said just reallocating just 2 percent of the Chicago Police Department’s budget could help Black and Brown neighborhoods reduce gun violence.
That money would help support violence interrupters and other residents doing ground-level work to keep communities safe through direct action with gang members. Peace treaties, accountability, trauma-healing and a restorative justice process are all part of the plan, 18-year-old activist Miracle Boyd said.
Communities would improve if the city redistributed some police funding toward violence prevention, robust mental health services, schools and grocery stores, Tennyson said.
“This march is all about love. It’s about fixing the community,” she said. “We need to defund the police and fund the community.”
GoodKids MadCity, a youth-led organization, was formed to empower young people to confront the violence they face in their communities. The group focuses on restorative justice, creates healing spaces for young people impacted by trauma and works to fill resource gaps in neighborhoods.
The group was key in organizing against the $95 million police and fire academy planned for the West Side.
Boyd demanded that Mayor Lori Lightfoot divest from the Chicago Police Department and direct the money to communities instead.
“We’re the people of the community. I don’t see you [Mayor Lightfoot] out here organizing people,” Boyd said. “… We are the ones in our community that have to deal with the trauma.”
Among those marching was Nathaniel Pendleton, the 18-year-old brother of Hadiya Pendleton, 15, who was fatally shot in Kenwood in January 2013.
“When I came out here, I wanted to make sure that I can do something to push positive energy out into the world so that I can make the small change that I can,” Pendleton said.
After the march, activists met in a prayer circle and then volunteers to help passed out free baby supplies and food to those in need at a Love Train station.
Tennyson said volunteers operate the Love Train station four-to-six days a week at various locations across the city. She started the movement two days after Chicago was struck by looting in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in May.
For more information on supporting the Love Train, reach out to Tennyson on Twitter at @nita_bud.
Standing with the youth was Illinois State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).
“I think oftentimes we hear this talk about ‘oh, folks in the community aren’t talking about gun violence prevention,’ well, that’s wrong. This is a shining example of that,” Peters said. “Not only are they talking about violence prevention, but they’re talking about it at a root-cause level.”
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