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Religious Leaders To March Against Youth Violence

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Anti-Violence March

One of the many signs held by a hundreds of people who marched against teen violence on the city’s West Side Sunday. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Palm Sunday marked the beginning of Holy Week on the Christian calendar, and now, political and religious leaders are using the sacred message to combat youth violence by holding a march.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the march starts at 5:30 p.m. at St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron St., and stops at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., and Old St. Pat’s Church, 700 W. Adams St., before ending at Stroger Hospital of Cook County, 1901 W. Harrison St.

The purpose is to remember Chicago’s murdered youth. According to one pastor, 57 children have lost their lives since the beginning of the school year.

On Sunday, hundreds of people marched out of Greater St. John Bible Church, at 1256 N. Waller Ave. in the North Austin neighborhood. They marched in solidarity for justice for Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who was killed by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain who claims self-defense.

But they also marched for peace on Chicago’s streets.

Six years ago, Willie Williams Jr. lost his teenage son and namesake, who was shot down outside a theater. It took the 17-year-old more than half a day to die at the hospital.

The victim’s dad says he’ll never forget.

“For fourteen hours, I had to watch my son. He was in a lot of pain. You know, I wish that on no one. Right now, I’m out here to fight for other parents,” he said.

Among the parents marching Sunday was Rickeeta Russell, who marched with her two young children. Three-year-old Takyla carried a sign her mom wrote that asked whether her daughter would live to see her next birthday.

She said she’s truly worried about her children’s lives, “because it’s crimes out here.”

Lawmakers and activists said the gang-fueled violence that sent nine more people to hospitals overnight can be stopped, but first they say families in crime ravaged neighborhoods have to look within.

Ald. Deborah Graham (29th) said, “It starts at home. Gang members come from houses. They don’t just appear out on the street.”

And pastors say it’s hypocritical to want justice for Trayvon Martin when so often people aren’t willing to help police in solving murders in Chicago.

“They talk about, ‘We don’t want to snitch,’” said the Rev. Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church. “You’d better snitch, or the next life lost could be someone in your own household.”

At the march planned for Monday, organizers are hoping to get participants connected with organizations that help prevent violence in the city.

More than 40 organizations are planning to attend.

Meanwhile, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in Washington, D.C., Monday, speaking at the national summit on preventing youth violence at noon.

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