It’s become an all too routine in Austin and the rest of Chicago’s West Side—a tragic shooting death of a young person and outrage from the community, followed by some kind of community response.
The Aug. 7, peace march organized by Austin community leaders in response to the killing of Ashley Hardman, 19, in July drew hundreds of people. Hardman was struck in the back of head on July 2. Her killer remains at large. A reward is being offered to anyone offering information about her death.
“So many futures have been aborted at the hands of senseless violence,” said Austin pastor, Rev. Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church, prior to last Wednesday’s march. “It is time we challenge every aspect of our community to put down the guns. We have already lost many of our best and brightest. The madness must stop.”
Attending the march were Hardman’s friends and family, including her mom, Tiffany Hardman. Ashake Banks, the mother of 7-year-old Heaven Sutton who was shot and killed in June 2012, also attended the march — the two mothers walked hand-and-hand at one point.
Plans are to hold a march and prayer vigil every Wednesday this month at 6:30 p.m.
“We cannot afford to lose anymore Hadiya Pendletons, Heaven Suttons and Ashley Hardmans,” Acree said, also refereeing to 15-year-old Pendleton, who was killed on the South Side just days after performing with her classmates at Obama’s inauguration in January 2012.
Acree is urging members of the community to attend this month’s marches and vigils, which will start at Greater St. John, 1256 N. Waller.
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