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UPDATED 11/02/11 6:13 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – Gun violence against children must end. That was the message a huge crowd took to the streets of Chicago Tuesday night.
They gathered to honor some 260 young people murdered in the city since 2008.
CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports that Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke to the crowd at St. Sabina Church, 1210 W. 78th Pl., before they hit the streets.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports
People cried, they lit candles, they prayed – not just for their own loved ones, but for so many others whose families are still grieving.
“I would not have been anywhere else, because I really wanted to keep my cousin’s memory alive,” Anthony Lindsey said. “He was gunned down at such a young age.”
The “Urban Dolorosa” service was a way to shed light on the tragedy of the loss of young people in our community. It was described as a living memorial to murdered children through poetry, music, photography, candlelight and youth performance.
Stark black-and-white photographs played on a massive video screen at the altar rail as 275 names were read. One photo showed a child, head against a fencepost, a bandage encircling his arm. Another showed someone cleaning blood from a sidewalk. There were photos of victims, their families and processions past caskets. Other photographs showed makeshift memorials to murdered children. Some were elaborate ones set up in homes, while others on stood on porches, sat beneath trees or were scrawled on walls.
Mayor Emanuel spoke to the friends and families for 10 minutes about the tragedy and horror of gun violence.
“I try to call every parent of a child who’s the victim of gun violence,” he said. “It is the loneliest call I do as mayor.”
The mayor told the mourners that he began his day Tuesday by calling the mother of a child who was shot in the arm while trick-or-treating on the 4700 block of North Sacramento Avenue in the Albany Park neighborhood.
“I started the day calling a mother … because her son yesterday was trick-or-treating, was in a park, doing what a kid’s allowed to do – being a child,” Emanuel said. “And because he didn’t know the Latin Kings signal, they took a shot, hit him in the leg.”
Emanuel told the families that the city is there to help them and that most Chicagoans care about the violence. He added that every time a child is brutalized or murdered, it should affect all Chicagoans.
“We, as adults have to measure up to all their dreams,” he said. “When a child is lost to violence, we as adults aren’t measuring up to our responsibility to our children.”
Children placed pair of shoes at the foot of the altar, symbolizing those who have died. Parents added photos atop the altar. At the conclusion of the hour-long service, those in attendance stepped outside and circled the church as their candles flickered.
Afterward, participants walked in a neighborhood march to remember and to push for peace.
The memorial was timed to coincide with the Roman Catholic observance Wednesday of All Souls Day and Dia de los Muertos, (the Day of the Dead).