ROGERS PARK — Following a rise in Rogers Park shootings this year, peace activists will hold a march and rally Saturday aimed at getting feuding gangs to put down the guns.
The Daddy Please anti-violence march will start noon Saturday. The event is open at all.
The march will start at two points to symbolize the feuding Rogers Park gangs who have contributed to a spike in gun violence this year, said Ralph Edwards, program manager at Communities Partnering 4 Peace.
One march will begin at Willye B. White Park, 1610 W. Howard St., and the other at United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse Ave. The groups will meet at Touhy and Ashland avenues before walking to Loyola Beach for a rally.
A food drive will be hosted by Rogers Park-based Jungle Love Herbs. Personal protective equipment and other essentials will be distributed for free. Kiddie bags will be handed out.
The involved nonprofits will also debut programming for the neighborhood, including a Rogers Park dance team, a new dads group and a workshop for victims of sexual abuse, Edwards said.
As peace advocates work with the gangs, the march will hopefully help broker a truce, Edwards said.
“We have dire concerns about the uptick in violence in the Rogers Park area,” Edwards said. “This is a longstanding feud between two groups. We have so many different people trying to get through to these guys.”
The Rogers Park police district has seen four killings and 26 shootings through July 20, though a few of those incidents have taken place in West Ridge, according to police statistics. Two people were killed and six others wounded in the neighborhood during a violent end to June.
Through the same period of 2019, there were three homicides and 15 shootings in the Rogers Park police district.
Communities Partnering 4 Peace is a collaborative of groups working to reduce gun violence and overturn the lack of investment and resources that contribute to such problems. In Rogers Park, the collaborative works with ONE Northside, a restorative justice group.
Neighborhood leaders are working through ways to immediately address the violence, including through new street outreach programs. Anti-violence groups have been on the ground for some time, however, and they are hoping to leverage their previous work with Saturday’s rally, Edwards said.
The rally will prominently feature the voices of youth activists, who have stepped up this year to advocate for civil rights measures and stop-the-violence efforts. The title for the march is meant to appeal to perpetrators of violence through the perspective of children who often are caught in the middle, Edwards said.
“We want to empower them,” Edwards said of young activists. “You have babies getting killed, elderly people. We want to say, ‘We did not sign up for this.'”
The local nonprofits have negotiated gang truces for years, including a successful intervention in Uptown, Edwards said.
The groups are hoping for similar success in Rogers Park, but the lack of community resources and funding dedicated to the problem make their work harder, Edwards said.
Rogers Park isn’t the only neighborhood experiencing a rise in shootings. Gun violence is up citywide — a troubling trend compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, community leaders say.
Not only have people lost their jobs due to the pandemic, but nonprofits and service groups working on the problem have had to scale back or stop their work due to the economic downturn. Couple that with the closure of parks and some after-school programs and the situation lends itself to increased violence, Edwards said.
“There’s a lot of frustration setting in,” he said. “All these things have been shut down, with no answers as to what comes next. People tend to take matters into their own hands.”
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