Your NPR news source

Englewood Mourns for Jennifer Hudson

SHARE Englewood Mourns for Jennifer Hudson
Englewood Mourns for Jennifer Hudson

Items placed in memorial for the slain Hudson family members, in the Englewood neighborhood. (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Much of Chicago continues to express shock over the murders of members of Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson’s family. Police confirmed Monday that the singer’s 7-year-old nephew was also shot. His body was found in an abandoned SUV on the city’s west side. The emotions are particularly raw in the Englewood neighborhood, where the celebrity’s family lives. For some in the neighborhood, the deaths are raising complicated feelings about violence in the community.

On a windy morning, a steady stream of visitors comes to pay their respects to Darnell Donerson and Jason Hudson, the mother and brother of Chicago darling Jennifer Hudson.

Neighbors and former co-workers brought balloons and teddy bears, flowers and cards. Makeshift crosses sit in front of the house on 70th and Yale in honor of the mother and son. Many of the people bringing their condolences are strangers.

Yolanda Anderson is one of them.

ANDERSON: I said when I get a chance, I don’t care what, I’m going to come by and drop my little teddy bears off.

Anderson says this kind of tragedy should rally neighborhoods to get involved when violence occurs.

ANDERSON: Everybody needs to stick together. You see something, don’t be scared to tell it. ‘Cause if I see something, I’m telling. I don’t care. Call me a snitch. I’m tellin’.

Jennifer Hudson’s family decided to stay in Englewood even after her Cinderella-like fame. The neighborhood is one of the most violent in the city. But one resident, Lonnie Holman, says people here look out for each other. In his view, it’s the police who don’t keep up their end of the bargain.

HOLMAN: If you call and say somebody shot, you gonna be on the phone with the police for an hour anyway. They ain’t even gonna make it out here. Sometimes you can tell police things to help you and help you with stuff. They ain’t even gonna come. We gotta protect ourselves, we gotta help ourselves out here. It’s a good thing to have the police. At the same time, man, do your job. Don’t just come on the block to harass people. Come on the block to help people.

Holman grew up with Jason Hudson. Another friend of the family, Josef Hindmon, understands why Jennifer Hudson’s mother stayed in Englewood.

HINDMON: Her mama was there all her life. She grew up in there, she raised her kids in there. She feels she didn’t have to leave from her house.

Crime across the city is up and continues to plague the Chicago Police Department. Police have called the Hudson crimes domestic related.

Anita Weinberg is a law professor at Loyola University. She says the problem with domestic violence is that people – whether family or friends – know the victim.

WEINBERG: This is not a crime that matters where you live. Because if it’s a family member, the person who’s looking for you is going to know where to find you unless you’re in hiding.

Back on Yale Avenue, the anti-violence group CeaseFire led a prayer vigil for Jennifer Hudson on Monday.

ambi: Prayer

CeaseFire’s Tio Hardiman says dealing with conflicts that aren’t about robbery are difficult.

HARDIMAN: When you deal with interpersonal conflict, you have to have outreach workers and violence interrupters who know the guys and people in the neighborhood who can intercept whisperers. You gotta get the right kind of people who have relationships with these men and women.

Some gathered outside of the Hudson’s home wonder if the celebrity nature of this crime will focus the spotlight on the need for more anti-violence measures across the city. Crisis intervention training and conflict de-escalation are now popping up in some Englewood schools, programs that give people the tools to solve problems without turning to violence. But for now, friends grieve over the loss of Hudson’s family members.

They say the star’s mother Darnell Donerson would watch the kids pass by going to school and brother Jason …

FRIENDS: He was a good guy. We BBQ’d out here. 500 chicken wings. Whole steaks. We’d be out here BBQ’ing everyday of the summer.

In front of the white home, where their bodies were found last week shot to death, three barbeque grills are on the grass as a simple, yet nostalgic, reminder.

I’m Natalie Moore, Chicago Public Radio.

The Latest