PORTAGE PARK — Neighbors who gathered at Chopin Park Wednesday night to honor Serabi Medina encouraged community members to look out for one another in the face of tragedy.
Lilia Escobar, an organizer with neighborhood group 30th Ward United who lives next to the park, organized the peace march to honor Serabi. The 9-year-old girl was shot and killed by a neighbor earlier this month in an incident that rocked the community.
The march brought about a dozen neighbors together, who walked around the park chanting “We love you, Serabi” and “Say Her Name, BB.” The group of children, families and neighbors carried candles, signs and flowers that they placed at the large memorial honoring Serabi in front of her home in the 3500 block of North Long Avenue.
“Tragedies like this have a way of making us feel immense fear, fear like we want to run away or hide. We want to hold on to our loved ones and keep them to ourselves … it makes us distrustful,” Escobar told the crowd.
In the wake of the shooting, Escobar and co-organizers said it is important to bring people together and “out of the shadows” to push back against the fear — and getting to know your neighbors is a productive way to start, she said.
“I think it is our duty to protect one another,” she said. “It is our duty to look out for our children and our neighbors’ children.”
Michael Medina, Serabi’s father, echoed that sentiment shortly after the incident, Escobar said. In speaking with the family after the shooting, Escobar said a family member told her Medina had said, “This is why it’s so important to know your neighbor.”
The Medina family was not able to attend the march as they are preparing for Serabi’s wake and funeral, but Escobar said they gave her the blessing to host the march.
“I believe that this action is a way for us to show that we are taking this community back from the harm and ill intention that may enter,” she said. “Portage Park is for families.”
Terrie Albano, another neighbor who lives near the Medina family, attended the march to meet more neighbors, especially after the shooting.
“I came because I am a member of the community, and what affects one member affects us all … that is the kind of culture I want to help build,” Albano said.
Albano did not know the family but attended last week’s vigil and balloon release in Serabi’s honor. Seeing community members support the family and each other was heartwarming and should be the case even when there isn’t a traumatic event in the neighborhood, she said.
Escobar hopes to organize more recurring family-friendly events in the neighborhood to help neighbors feel connected and potentially prevent future violence.
Wednesday’s peace march was the latest effort by the Portage Park community to offer support to Serabi’s family after her death. A GoFundMe launched to help her family with funeral and related expenses has raised more than $53,000.
Leftover money will assist Michael Medina in finding a new home as “there is no way he can stay in the home they shared together, especially after it was where she was killed,” the family wrote on the GoFundMe page. Medina was a widower raising Serabi on his own, according to family friends.
Serabi, who attended Reinberg Elementary and went by the nickname BB, was outside her home on her scooter with her father and three friends Aug. 5 when Michael Goodman, who lives across the street, shot and killed her, officials previously said.
Goodman, 43, faces one felony count of first-degree murder.
The funeral service for Serabi is Friday at Rago Brothers Funeral Home, 7751 W. Irving Park Road.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.