“Stop the violence. Stop the shooting,” the marchers chanted as they headed up Central Avenue toward the intersection of Corcoran Place on April 7.
The march toward the high-traffic business district in Austin was in response to the grisly midday shooting at the intersection that killed 24-year-old Byron McKinney Jr. and wounded five others.
Several dozen people turned out to the rally and vigil on Wednesday, April 13, to send the message that violence will not be tolerated in their neighborhood.
Anthony Clark, director and founder of Suburban Unity Alliance, said his organization and others are working to show that, “Austin is not in this fight alone; Oak Park is not in this fight alone.”
“We’re taking over this corner,” he said. “We’re letting everybody know this is not your corner. Violence does not own this block. We own this block.”
Clark said the rally also aimed to send the message that neighbors are working to bring McKinney’s killers to justice but also those of Elijah Sims, an Oak Park River Forest High School student who was shot and killed in August.
Sims’ mother, Sharita Galloway, also attended the rally saying that any time there is a shooting in the neighborhood it is a flashback to her son’s death.
“I’m just out here to show my support for all the mothers of Austin and the city of Chicago that there are people here that care,” she said. “I try to explain to people now that it’s not just about Elijah anymore it’s much bigger.”
George Bady, of the organization Stop the Violence, said his group is out every day working with kids on the streets with the goal of sending the message that violence is not the answer.
“Enough is enough. We’re tired of it,” he said.
He said that there are people out there who know who committed the shooting and his group is looking for “somebody to step up and tell what happened.”
“If you got the guy who did this sleeping on your couch, you’re just as guilty as he is,” he said, adding “… it could be you tomorrow.”
Father Tom Walsh, pastor of St. Martin de Porres Church, led the group in a prayer and said catholic charities is planning to bring greater resources to the neighborhood by setting up shop at the shuttered ABC Bank building, 5645 W. Lake St., this summer.
“They’re going to be bringing in a whole lot of services to the community,” he said.