Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chicago youth violence memorial, CNN story

Please watch the CNN video below about youth dying in Chicago, and see the stone memorial Diane Latiker started in a vacant lot using 30 stones that's now up to 153 stones, one for each child. Anchor David Mattingly says Latiker's surprised by the growing number and they discuss that the city is failing its children.

More youth have died by violence in Chicago this year than the year before. The video shows one little boy who was partially paralyzed after a bullet hit him while he lay sleeping in his mother's car.

Mattingly says the faces of the dead are also posted in the Chicago Tribune. I think the paper should be commended for that. It's a call to action instead of always throwing up the perpetrators photos or a whole sheet of wanted people while victims are forgotten.

New Orleans may need a memorial of stones. I remember a few months ago going the cemetery with my father and walking into the mausoleum to look at see how the plaque turned out on my mother's crypt. Some of the crypts have photos of the dead. I was drawn to one, the picture of a young man, because his baby face. Reading his birth to death dates, I felt a chill go through me. He was only 20, and mourners had stuck notes in the cracks, messages to him such as "Uncle Bobby misses you."

The level of stress on people here as we watch our own city, New Orleans, buckle under violence that often involves people under 25 is sometimes unbearable, which is why I address it in poetry and poem-prayers. Some days the bad news is so overwhelming I feel like we're drowning in blood, and I wonder how do they get their hands on so many guns. Why is it so many young people seem consumed with the need for revenge? And I wonder about the mothers. So, the poetry is not about writing the perfect poem, but expressing sorrow and rage.

Michael Pfleger, the Catholic activist priest who you may recall being in the news during last year's election, speaks in the video. After being shaken by the death of a teen who was beaten, shot in the head and burned, the priest is flying the American flag upside down to signal the city is in trouble, an S.O.S. According to the Tribune, the teen's death is being blamed on gang violence.

Mattingly and Pfleger make the point that if Chicago had had that many young people dead from Swine Flu, tons of money would have been dumped on the city for research, but not so for violent deaths. So far this year 30 school-age children have been killed in Chicago. Like the people of New Orleans, no one in Chicago seems to have a solution.

Video is also at this link. Also read Anderson Cooper's 360 Blog on this topic. CNN now has a full story posted at this link.

Related topics at The Urban Mother's Book of Prayers.

1 comment:

Revvy Rev said...

great post VP! This inspires a thought for a local article I am working on.