Between 100 and 200 people came out tonight for the Peace and Education Coalition's peace march in the wake of Leticia Barrera's death on Halloween. This Tribune story lays out what happened and the neighborhood reaction pretty well.
Lots of politicians turned out tonight, including Mayor Daley, Aldermen Cardenas (I think), Cochran, Dowell and Thompson, State Representatives Esther Golar, Susana Mendoza, and Tony Munoz, and Sen. Mattie Hunter and maybe a second one--sorry if I forgot who. CPD Interim Superintendent Dana Starks and 9th District Commander Eugene Roy also came out. Our local leading lights included the pastors of St. Michael's, Holy Cross/IHM and St. Joseph, Paul Lopez from Park Federal Savings, Emilio Carrasquillo from Neighborhood Housing Services, Alfredo Nambo from Big Picture HS, the principal of San Miguel School, Oscar Contreras of Catholic Charities Street Intervention and many more.
I was happy to see Brother Jim from the prayer walk in the crowd. He told me he had been walking over on Seeley and in the neighborhood this morning. I hope I can go out with him again sometime.
Taking a guess as to where the regular folks who came were coming from: people from San Miguel School were there, parishioners from St. Michael's, at least a dozen folks from Su Casa Catholic Worker, at least a few I knew from Holy Cross. The Peace and Education Coalition gave themselves a week to organize the march, which was good. It showed in the politicians, press and equipment (signs, people to direct traffic), and in the end of the march being at the San Miguel gym with hot chocolate for everyone.
Before the group began walking, Mayor Daley spoke. I'm not sure I can quote him--I wasn't taking notes--but he was impassioned to the point of near anger in his insistence that the community not let the gangbangers get away with this one. "I don't care if they're Two-Sixers or Latin Kings or Black P Stones or Disciples, or who--you have to tell us what you know."
Comments like that and 'don't let yourselves be afraid of a 14-year-old' (I think that was pretty accurate) are fine as far as they go, but I don't think they really help when people are still reeling from a shooting in the street. I know I was scared when the shots went off over here a couple of weeks ago, and I'm still scared when some of the squatters have tried to stare me down once or twice as I'm coming out of the house.
Fr. Bruce seemed to get it. He translated Daley's comments in a very interesting way, at least as I understood what he was saying. Basically, his translation came down to, we are one family, we have to have courage, as a family we need to tell the truth about what happened. An excellent spin, I would say.
Anyway, lots of politicians talked, we went up the street and prayed in front of the Barrera's house, then we walked over to the San Miguel gym for some more speeches and hot chocolate. A lot of business seemed to be getting done on the walk--I know Ald. Thompson got an earful about the rate of foreclosures in the 16th ward and the number of adjustable-rate mortgages with rates poised to go up.
The Coalition is sponsoring a fund for the Barrera children. Donations can be made in Leticia Barrera's name and sent to Park Federal Savings Bank, 2740 W. 55th St. Chicago, IL 60632.