Javian Jones, 6, holds a sign. Hundreds of Chicago youth march from the State of Illinois Building to the offices of Chicago Public Schools as part of the “We Want to Live and Not Die” youth march on Tuesday, July 31, 2012. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: September 2, 2012 6:19AM
Shouting “I will live, not die,” more than 200 Chicago Public School students protested Tuesday morning against shootings plaguing the city.
The group, donning red shirts and signs, hoped to get the attention of public officials and others as they marched escorted by police about a half-mile from the Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph, to the Chicago Public School headquarters at 125 S. Clark.
The group, mostly African Americans ages 5-18, also want teachers to not strike this school year. CPS and teachers are currently haggling over a new contract. Many members of the group belonged to Safe Haven, a group that helps keep youth safe.
“It starts with us wanting to make a difference,” said Dionne Woods, 24, from her wheelchair.
Woods, who was shot in a drive-by at age 14, added: “It starts with us talking to our friends telling them this is not the right thing to do. How can they give us more and do more for us if we are not trying and showing them this is what we want? We have to care.”
Bishop James Dukes, of the Liberation Christian Center, said more programs are needed to help youth.
“Many times we come and officials are talking about how our young people walk around with sagging pants on,” Dukes said. “When they [the government] cut our programs for our youth, their pants are sagging.”
“Pay special attention to the youth,” said Dukes, who leads youth asking public officials for a teen summit and to adopt a youth agenda.
“CPS! We will be heard. Don’t strike. We want to be in school,” added Dukes with his crowd echoing.