Humboldt Park rally protests violence

Hundreds of worshippers are set to march this evening to Humboldt Park in condemnation of violence in their communities. En route, they will stop at sites where violence has claimed lives.

"We're letting it be known that the community is a force to be reckoned with," said Wilfredo de Jesus, senior pastor at New Life Covenant Church. "We're not going to stay in our houses, our porches, and our churches.  We will not be afraid."

The event is expected to include members of 125 congregations, who will take part in an overnight prayer vigil, capping off with a presentation of families affected by violence and a mayoral address late Saturday morning.

"We welcome anyone to join in. Anyone who hates domestic and street violence," said de Jesus

The demonstration is an part of EX 20:13, a grassroots program that has been calling for legislation to stem violence. EX 20:13 refers to the Bible passage in Exodus that forbids killing.

EX 20:13 notes in a petition that more than 2,800 residents under the age of 17 were victims of gun violence in 2006. Of that 25 were killed by gunfire.

"It's a citywide effort," said Ald. Billy Ocasio of the 26th Ward.

Ocasio, whose ward includes much of Humboldt Park as well as Logan Square, said it is fitting to hold Friday march in Humboldt Park, as residents are wary after a wave of violence and increased gang activity over the summer.

"This is a call to action, to not only put down guns, but change the way people think," said Ocasio.

Marchers will start at four points in the neighborhood at 6:00 p.m., and the prayer vigil will begin in the park at 7:30, continuing until the following morning.

Participants have the chance to sign a petition calling for stricter gun control and urging lawmakers to grant funding for after-school programs, summer youth jobs, and local community centers.

For directions and maps of the march and a copy of the petition, see the EX 20:13 website.

EX 20:13 also plans to hold a rally in Garfield Park on November 17.

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ANONYMOUS, 10-29-2007

It's good that so many people take a stand against violence in our society.