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Young People Celebrate Non-Violence In Campout With Cops

Some 60 youths participated in a campout in the Chatham neighborhood Friday night. (CBS)

Some 60 youths participated in a campout in the Chatham neighborhood Friday night. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Residents in the Chatham neighborhood were sleeping in the park Friday in an effort to stop violence.

The event, called Peace in the Park After Dark, was a tribute to murdered Chicago police officer Thomas Wortham, who once served as president of the Cole Park Advisory Council.

The tents were up, scores of them, hours before this night of camping with cops, National Guard members and even Chicago firefighters began. Some 60 young people came not just for food, fun and adventure, but to hear the words of advice and encouragement – life advice – from people like the city’s police superintendent.

“This is about changing the way things are happening on the streets, and it’s not going to happen if we all stand by and watch,” Garry McCarthy told the youths.

Advice also came from Thomas Wortham IV, who was being honored.

“You can be anything you want to be. But let me just tell you this: You’ve got to work for it,” he said. “There is no free ride in life.”

The young people, many of whom camped out last year, were really into it.

“Being safe around the police is very reassuring,” one participant said.

Police officers and community members watched over the youngsters all through the night.