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Little Village neighbors plan Peace March

Aliyah Shell 6 was her porch March 3100 block South Springfield Chicago when she was shot death allegedly by gang-banger

Aliyah Shell, 6, was on her porch in March in the 3100 block of South Springfield in Chicago when she was shot to death, allegedly by a gang-banger shooting at a rival gang member. | Family photo

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Updated: September 3, 2012 1:18PM

Last April, soon after the horrific murder of 6-year old Aliyah Shell, Eloisa Chavez and a small group of her Little Village neighbors decided to promote peace there.

They created the White Ribbon Project to organize anti-violence activities while encouraging residents to be more involved in the effort. 

“We don’t want more people dying on our streets,” Chavez told me. “We want to live in peace.”

She is a five-year resident of Little Village who has taken English classes with her husband at a satellite office of Universidad Popular, a community school that has taught immigrants since the late ’70s.

Chavez said she frequently sees gang-bangers hanging out on her street.

“At times, they throw bottles at each other,” she said. “Sometimes they shoot.”

On Saturday, Chavez and other members of the White Ribbon Project will take to the streets to call for peace.

They plan to march from 31st and Hamlin to the Little Village Arch at 26th and Albany. The Peace March starts at 9 a.m.

A member of the Latin Kings allegedly shot little Aliyah on the porch of her house in March. The drive-by shooting caused an uproar in the city and prompted residents, community groups and the local schools and churches to launch a series of anti violence activities.

In response to the record-breaking homicide rate, the Chicago Police launched a new strategy of putting more cops on the streets and working with the anti-violence group CeaseFire.

The White Ribbon Project hopes to make parents more sophisticated about gangs.

Chavez would like to see workshops at which parents could learn to recognize if their own kids are involved in gangs and what to do when gangs harass their children.

At the march, Chavez said the group will distribute white ribbons as a symbol of peace and community involvement. The group plans will call for “no more violence” and “no more silence.”

I welcome the initiative of Chavez and the members of White Ribbon Project. In this column, I have called for more visible community involvement in Little Village and elsewhere to make sure gangs get the message that violence will not tolerated.

It’s crucial that the police, businesses, community groups, churches and schools, as well as local politicians, support the White Ribbon Project. This is precisely the kind of community involvement that everybody, beginning with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Gary McCarthy, has advocated.

Chavez says it’s not easy.

“I have been distributing leaflets for the Peach March, but not everybody wants or can get involved,” she said. “People tell me they are busy or they just don’t want to take the leaflet.”

It will take her kind of courage, and more, to make a dent in the violence that some say has made Chicago more dangerous than Afghanistan.

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