As the nation mourned the loss of children and teachers killed in the Newtown, Conn. school shooting, residents of Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood gathered to remember a different kind of massacre — the hundreds of people killed each year on the city’s streets.
The Facebook invitation for the Dec. 15 vigil was titled “496 Stars: a vigil for the fallen.” And then it became 497 stars. Then 498 and 499. Each star represented one person who was killed this year on Chicago’s streets. Members of Occupy Rogers Park hung wooden stars on a tree, each inscribed with a victim’s name and age. At the rally, one more star was added, representing the 500th person killed this year.
[Photos by Sarah Jane Rhee]
On the day of the December vigil, Occupy Rogers Park hung 499 wooden stars on a tree at the east end of Lunt Avenue by Lake Michigan.
Written on each star was the name and age (if known) of a 2012 homicide victim.
Organizations such as Food Not Bombs, Overpass Light Brigade and Peace Angels participated in the vigil.
Kenneth Wesbrooks of Peace Angels takes a photo of the memorial.
As darkness falls, people gather in the rain to remember the victims of violence on Chicago’s streets.
Vigil attendee Jim Ginderske hangs one additional star on the tree, bringing the total to 500. The day of the rally, organizers learned of one additional death, and that star was hung on the tree during the vigil.
West Side resident Malcolm London shared his poem, “A Change Gone Come.”
Michelle Strater Gunderson of the Chicago Teachers Union led the group in singing “We Shall Overcome.”
Vigil attendee Kelly Hayes sings as she stands in the rain.
Overpass Light Brigade used volunteers from those gathered to create a message of remembrance.