WEST HUMBOLDT PARK — A local anti-violence organization is holding a peace march this weekend in West Humboldt Park to stop shootings in the area, especially those involving kids.
The No Kids Die In The Chi march will kick off 11 a.m. Saturday at Orr Academy High School at 730 N. Pulaski Road, said organizer Shawn Childs. The group will march down Chicago Avenue to Kells Park at 3201 W. Chicago Ave. Neighbors are encouraged to bring signs with anti-violence messages.
Childs, founder of anti-violence organization House of Hope Foundation, said the event is a direct response to shootings plaguing the area and other parts of the city.
Shootings in the 11th Police District, which covers most of West Humboldt Park, have risen 11 percent over last year, from 365 to 404, according to police data. Murders have also gone up 7 percent, from 82 to 88, the data shows.
For comparison, the neighboring 12th Police District, which covers the Near West Side and parts of West Town and the West Loop, has seen 121 shootings and 33 murders this year, according to the data.
“Innocent kids are dying over there. It’s horrible, and nobody is doing anything to bring it down,” Childs said.
Growing up in the now-razed Cabrini-Green housing projects, Childs said he was “a gangbanger, a street guy,” which led to violence and tragedy. He was shot three times and served three prison sentences, he said. He also lost two of his best friends to gun violence — one was 15 years old and the other 17.
As Childs got older, he launched House of Hope to prevent others from experiencing the same upbringing. With back-to-school drives and peace marches, like the one in West Humboldt Park, he hopes to steer young people away from a life of violence, he said.
“I know the people who are doing these shootings,” Childs said. “They have kids. They have sons and daughters. If I can just touch one to say, ‘Give these kids a chance,’ it’ll slow it down. I know this. People might not believe this, but I know this.”
Childs is organizing the anti-violence march even as he grieves personal tragedy. He said his 32-year-old nephew, Valen Wallace, a father of five, was fatally shot early Wednesday in Grand Crossing. It’s the second nephew Childs has lost to gun violence; the first was killed five years ago, he said.
“It hurts. It hurts my mother. My family is going through it. I’m going to march harder until we spread the word that innocent kids shouldn’t deserve to die,” Childs said.
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