While local and even national media shined a spotlight on the anti-violence protest that blocked the Dan Ryan Expressway Saturday, a lesser-known protest movement was getting underway on the South Side.
On Friday advocates from the Pilsen-based Resurrection Project held the second-annual #IncreaseThePeace initiative in Back of the Yards.
Throughout the summer, the group is camping out in six Chicago neighborhoods to create safe spaces in “hot spots” where community members are most vulnerable to gun violence.
The “campouts” include food, music, bonfires, local speakers and nonviolence workshops.
Morning Shift explores the initiative and the need for support services for those affected by gun violence on the South and West sides.
On Back of the Yards
Berto Aguayo: I was born in raised in that community. We opened up our office as The Resurrection Project there in March 2016. We started the campouts and the initiative in October 2016 when a 16-year-old girl was killed in front of our office. And we gathered young people together... to think about a response. How do we respond to the incessant violence that we’re witnessing in our communities? Some of the young people said hey, why don’t we just camp out? It’s a hot street corner and let’s take it over for the whole night. We convinced ourselves that it wasn’t that crazy of an idea.
There is a lot of violence, right, but there’s also a lot of positivity. A lot of great people in the community doing great work and that’s what we try to highlight through these campouts.
We really believe that if we do positive loitering and we have ownership over the public safety of our community, then maybe we can start addressing these issues more holistically.
On community organizing
Aguayo: What we like to think is that all we do is help young people find the power that they already have within themselves and then we just facilitate conversations and decision-making on what they want to do with their power.
Tony Sarabia: So how does that help reduce violence?
Aguayo: Once you give a young person the ability to see that they have power to not only change their community but to change themselves, I think it really goes a long way at building individual agency and civic agency.
On youth violence and youth leadership
Aguayo: We need young people to be organized but we also need families to be organized. We need our communities to be working together to solve these issues. Having young people as a centerpiece is crucial because I think young people in the city of Chicago are the constituency that’s most affected by the issue of violence.
In order to solve the issue of youth violence, we need that youth leadership and that youth voice at the table.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire conversation.
GUEST: Berto Aguayo, community organizer at The Resurrection Project
LEARN MORE: Back Of The Yards Neighbors To Camp Out On ‘Hot Blocks’ To Protest Gun Violence (Block Club Chicago 7/5/18)