CHICAGO (WLS) — Demonstrators march to draw awareness to ‘virus of violence’ in Chicago

Demonstrators marched down Michigan Avenue Thursday afternoon to bring attention to the number of annual homicides in the city as 2020 drew to a close.

Carrying Chicago flags with bullet holes, dozens of people came together on Michigan Avenue to remember the lives lost to gun violence in 2020 and to hold local leaders accountable.

“Unfortunately, while we have been working on COVID-19, we have ignored the virus of violence in the city of Chicago, and violence continues to rise,” said Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church.

“Our daughter, Mieya Sims, was fatally shot on October 10, 2020,” said one grieving mother. “Mieya was not in a gang. It’s takes a village the raise a child, well Mieya’s village is mourning tremendously.”

There have been more than 760 murders this year in Chicago, compared to 495 murders in of all 2019.

More than 4,000 people have been shot this year, up from about 2,600 last year.

“It’s not just been particularly violent in Chicago, but many other cities across the country have faced a really heart wrenching surge, particularly in gun violence,” said Roseanna Ander, Executive Director at the the University of Chicago Crime Lab & Education Lab.

Ander said the pandemic has contributed to the rise in gun violence.

“We do need to be looking, both at the sort of long term changes that are needed and investments, but also making really really quick and very significant investments in the infrastructure that communities need to be healthy, vibrant places,” Ander said.

Some community activists said the city needs new strategies to reduce crime.

“Professionals in the field of violence prevention and policing should not make any excuses. Either you can do your job or you can’t do your job,” said Tio Hardiman, President at Violence Interrupters.

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