As summer began to wind down and kids got ready for school, the violence didn’t stop. On August 24, in Chicago’s South Side neighborhood of Roseland, an assailant shot 17-year-old Patrice Brown and her best friend Taniya Ross. The two girls, both good students at Fenger High School, had been standing on the street where they live. Brown died a few days later. Ross is recovering from a collapsed lung and broken ribs. Ashley Gross visited with Ross while she was still in the hospital.
Behind a curtain in the trauma unit of Stroger hospital, Taniya Ross is trying to heal. She’s making progress and hopes to go home by the weekend.
ROSS: I been taking medicine, Tylenol, codeine, and I’ve been sleeping, eating good, walking around good, peeing good, watching movies, coloring, listening to music, I’ve been doing good.
But Taniya tears up when she thinks about Patrice. She called her “Tricie,” who in turn called Taniya “Baybay” or “Bookie.” They were best friends. Friday evening they were heading to Taniya’s house at 101st and State Street. Taniya says they stopped to talk to a friend when two young men they didn’t know walked by. The men turned and started shooting. Taniya says she saw Patrice fall and then was hit herself. Tuesday, Taniya found out her friend had died.
ROSS: Her uncle came up here and told me. And I took it easy, I cried a little bit, but I took it. I’m a soldier, I took it, I’m strong.
Taniya says she won’t go back to school right away. She says she doesn’t even want to walk to the bus stop. When she gets back to 101st street, it will be hard to avoid the memories. People in the neighborhood have erected a memorial on the site where the two girls were shot.
JALISA BROWN: This was my sister right here. This is a picture of her. I wrote this roses are red, violets are blue, believe me girl, I’m going to miss you.
That’s Jalisa Brown, Patrice’s little sister. She’s nine years old. She shows the stuffed animals and messages left by people from the neighborhood. She says she looked up to Patrice for getting good grades and dressing well, but Patrice would sometimes get annoyed with her.
JALISA BROWN: I’d go down there in her stuff, and she used to tell me, ‘don’t be using my stuff,’ go buy your own and stuff like that. She was fun, too, when we used to go through bad things, she used to tell us things to calm us down.
It still is taking a while to sink in. But Jalisa has learned young about the dangers around her.
JALISA BROWN: It’s just really heartbroken me to see that another day goes by, another good kid gets shot. Tricie used to tell me things like it’s going to be okay, if it was to be me down there, I don’t want you to cry like that.
GROSS: She said that?
BROWN: She used to tell me things like that once right down the street another person got shot.
Neighbors say that young man was shot and killed less than a year ago, across the street from the Browns’ house.
MAN WITH MEGAPHONE: Excuse me, testing one, two, we’re going to ask everyone to come as close as you can and gather around as we get ready to get this started, get our prayer vigil started…
And when the Browns hold a press conference outside their house to talk about Patrice’s death, it has a sadly familiar feeling. Patrice’s mom Patricia steps to the microphones.
PATRICIA: To my daughter, you somewhere with god right now. This is not goodbye, baby, this is not goodbye. You is going to be the one to make the difference, you is going to be the one to stop the crying, you is going to be the one to say, you know what, enough is enough, we as parents are going to have to say, enough is enough. We losing too many of our babies out here ya’ll.
Soon, the governor’s recent decision to slash funding for the anti-gun violence group Ceasefire takes center stage. Tyrone Crider is pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church.
CRIDER: I also want to say to the governor that this is not pork. I’m going to say it one more time. This is not pork! These are people and we need the Ceasefire program funded.
CROWD: That’s right.
ambi: Sound of crowd chanting
Then with about seven police officers keeping watch, the crowd marches down 101st street. They pass the tribute site, where Patricia Brown lays a bouquet of red roses on top of the stuffed animals. Then they turn the corner, stopping traffic and for at least a brief time, claiming the street for themselves.
I’m Ashley Gross, Chicago Public Radio.