CHICAGO — A family’s Memorial Day weekend get-together has turned into a community-wide event for peace.
The “Stop the Violence” parade on Sunday steered its way through the West Side of Chicago. Gatherers drove five miles through the streets of Austin in hopes that residents would take notice, listen to their message and take action.
Hosted by community organization “Unity Day Chi,” families participating started their day at Michele Clark Magnet High School with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and police superintendent David Brown on hand. The group carried out its tradition of using Memorial Day weekend to draw attention to the issues of gun violence in the city.
“I like coming out, doing stuff that can help the community,” said parade participant Anastacia Jackson.
The “Unity Day Chi” tradition began ten years ago as a family reunion. Now, the parade is a community-led call-to-action to kick off summer.
“We definitely need to do more,” said parade participant Antoine Larkins. “The message has been out there. People just don’t care. Enough, at least.”
Donavan Robinson of “Unity Day Chi” explained the meaning behind the annual parade, saying that it starts with hope.
“Hope for tomorrow. Seeing people come together,” he said. “Seeing old school cars. Hearing music. Just being able to see people come outside of their home and say ‘wow, what’s going on?’”
Parade participant Stacie Roberts says she came out in support of seeing the beauty that Chicago’s West Side has to offer.
“These are the streets that I walked as a kid,” the mother said. “So it’s important for me to show [my kids] I was able to walk these streets and enjoy my city.”