CHICAGO (CNS) – Shara Funches’ eyes scanned the rows of crosses set up on the sidewalk just north of the Chicago River on Michigan Avenue, a main thoroughfare through downtown.
Funches was looking for the cross bearing the name of her godson, Devon Almon, 23, who was gunned down on the Eisenhower Expressway Sept. 29.
“I had to be here for him. But also for all the kids who died. It just has to stop. It’s just sad. All the mothers, all the fathers, robbed,” Funches said.
She was one of hundreds of people who joined a march on Michigan Avenue organized by Father Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Parish on the city’s South Side, to remember those who died by gun violence in 2016.
The Chicago Police Department recorded 762 murders in 2016. Father Pfleger told the marchers there were nearly 800 crosses for them to carry.
The name of a victim, along with his or her age and date of death, was written on each 24-inch wooden cross built by Greg Zanis of Aurora, Ill. Family members and loved ones of victims were joined by strangers who came to bear witness to the toll of the violence that has shaken the community.
Vic Doucette, a parishioner at St. Francis Xavier Parish in suburban Wilmette, came with his wife to show solidarity with families who have lost someone to violence.
“It draws attention to the issue,” Doucette said. “It gives people an opportunity to express their feelings and be witness to those who are suffering. We need to do something.”
Opening the march, Father Pfleger told the group that the violence will not end until everyone gets involved.