This has been a tragic week in our neighborhood. On Wednesday, Natasha Howliet, a 20 year old mother of three was gunned down at a bus stop on the day of her three year old's birthday. She was a graduate of West Town Academy, 2021 W. Fulton St., and worked at KMart. Someone in a red car shot into the group of bystanders, probably hoping to hit the guys standing near her who still have not been located.
On Friday night, Stacey Adams, 22, was gunned down and killed in East Garfield Park. Terrence Gallaway, 28, has been charged with his murder.
On Tuesday a 23 year old young man was shot in the leg. When police tried to apprehend the shooter he fired at them!
Last Sunday, Demetrius Watson, 23, from East Garfield Park was found shot to death in the Little Village neighborhood.
The violence in Chicago is making national news and much of it is right in my neighborhood. I have heard there is a turf war going on between a couple of the local gangs. This is prime territory for the drug trafficking business
Sadly, I don't think there are any quick fixes. Young men who have been tossed aside, profiled because of the color of their skin and not challenged to believe in their future, feel they have little to lose in this war. They are the victims of generational poverty and institutional racism.
A 17 year old who participated in the Fenger mob scene a few weeks ago that left Derrion Albert beaten to death remarked, "I don't think a new day is promised to nobody. Anything could happen at any time." The Tribune ran an interesting article about why they fight.
We recently interviewed young men for our new Launch Pad program at Breakthrough. Launch Pad is a residential leadership development program for 18 to 24 year old men. We were deeply saddened by their stories. Most of them have recently come out of the foster care system and at age 18 are tossed to the streets with nothing.
I wish we had room for hundreds of these young men at Breakthrough. It is urgent that we grow this program.