CHATHAM — Activists across the city are preparing for another “Hit the Hood” peace initiative over Labor Day weekend as they work to limit gun violence through positive programming.
Neighbors will serve as “interrupters and peace agents” in Chicago’s violence “hot spots,” while organizers are planning events and marches to engage with residents over the holiday weekend.
“We are calling all different organizers — the faith-based community, block clubs, the city of Chicago at large — to make sure that they start organizing now so we can start getting ahead of this community violence,” said William Calloway, executive director of anti-violence nonprofit Christianaire and former 5th Ward aldermanic candidate.
Grants of $5,000 each issued by My Block, My Hood, My City will fund a weekend full of community-led events, including:
- A “Feed the Hood” fish fry, 5 p.m. Sept. 4 at Josephine’s Southern Cooking, 436 E. 79th St. in Chatham.
- A back-to-school “peace party” and giveaway of tablets and bookbags for kids in South Shore, location and time to be determined.
- A free “Taste on 63rd Street” featuring local restaurants in Englewood.
- A march Downtown against the city’s contract with the Fraternal Order of Police at noon Sept. 7.
Organizers with ideas for additional programming are encouraged to apply for funding on the Hit the Hood contact page.
The South Shore peace party, led by neighborhood organizer Kirah Moe, follows a similar Woodlawn party held for the Fourth of July. Residents interested in donating supplies, money or time can reach Moe by email at email@example.com.
“Sometimes the bad gets [highlighted] above everything,” Moe said. “But there are really great things going on in our community, and sometimes our communities need to see and feel that love.”
Labor Day weekend will mark the second Hit the Hood initiative, following the initial one held over the Fourth of July weekend.
The coalition handed out about $80,000 worth of grants for the Fourth of July and expects to do the same this time around, My Block, My Hood, My City founder Jahmal Cole said. All grants are funded by donations to his organization.
The funding is intended to help residents take responsibility for improving their neighborhoods, rather than placing blame on elected officials and other outside forces, Cole said.
Chicago police targeted teens on “drug corners” and put 1,000 more officers on the streets for the Fourth of July, but community-led initiatives are more effective at countering gun violence, he said.
“We can’t police our way out of this,” Cole said. “We’ve got to activate, we have to be proactive, we have to mobilize.”
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