Community Leaders Step Up To Prevent Violence This Memorial Day Weekend

Chicago violence prevention was in full swing at the start of Memorial Day weekend Saturday. CBS 2's Steven Graves reports.

Video Transcript

JIM WILLIAMS: Good evening. I'm Jim Williams. A mixed start to the Memorial Day weekend in Chicago. This morning, a 12-year-old was grazed by a bullet just as efforts to prevent violence get into full swing. With a surge in crime last year, community groups are honing in on strategies to increase the peace. Here's CBS2's Steven Graves.

STEVEN GRAVES: At Ogden park, in the heart of Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, love is the theme, especially for young people.

- We got free ice cream. We got free food.

STEVEN GRAVES: A gesture of recognition and caring that Nita Tennyson makes known through her Love Train initiative.

- This is basically how I want to celebrate my year of doing it.

STEVEN GRAVES: Today, creating a love wall with faces of kids and young adults killed due to gun violence in the city since late last year.

- I've seen their faces and I know their names, and I feel like we should all know their names, know their faces.

STEVEN GRAVES: She's out this Memorial Day weekend in partnership with community group, My Block, My Hood, My City's Hit the Hood effort, all because this time usually brings more crime in the city and there's a need for positive activities. Last year, 40 people were shot, 10 killed in the holiday weekend. Kids are far exempt from the violence.

So far this year, at least 95 children have been shot, 21 killed. Compare that to last year when 13 kids were killed. When you pair the pandemic with the crime epidemic that's happening right now, how do you think this year will be different?

LUZ CORTEZ: To take action and not just be reactionary.

STEVEN GRAVES: That's the attitude of these young women from Little Village. Along with activities, their event will include financial rental assistance for families. Multiple community groups purposefully holding the effort until night time. Why do that specifically?

ESMERELDA GONZALEZ: Having a sense of peace while walking around your-- feeling comfortable and safe while walking around your own neighborhood and breaking away the stigma of, it's too late and too dangerous to be walking around my own neighborhood at this time.

STEVEN GRAVES: Increasing the peace one event at a time. What would you say to people who look at this and really wonder if it will make a big impact on crime?

LUZ CORTEZ: If we build community and we come together, and we actually get to know one another, then we get to know, you know, what those triggers are to try to avoid them. We get to know what makes that person feel love, and want to be part of the community, and want to help build that community.

STEVEN GRAVES: With the mindset that any effort helps. Steven Graves, CBS2 News.

JIM WILLIAMS: These efforts on the South and West sides will continue throughout the summer. You can find more holiday weekend events on our website, CBSChicago.com. Just type in Memorial Day weekend. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has outlined the city's plan to curb crime this summer. The Summer Safety Strategy focuses on flooding resources into 15 police beats.

The mayor says those 15 sites make up 50% of violence in Chicago. They're broken into four areas, two on the West side, two on the South side. She also wants libraries, parks, and the Department of Public Health to get involved in anti-violence efforts.