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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn joined a South Side pastor on Sunday for part of his cross-country walk to raise money for a new community center, as well as awareness about the city’s violence problems.
CBS 2′s Pamela Jones reports Rev. Corey Brooks has been walking from New York to Los Angeles to raise $15 million for a new community center in Woodlawn, one of the city’s most violent neighborhoods.
He reached Chicago on Friday and, on Sunday, marched from the site of that planned community center to Navy Pier, with Emanuel, Quinn and about 200 other supporters joining the 11-mile walk.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Waelti reports
Brooks spent three months on top of an abandoned motel to raise $450,000 to purchase the building and tear it down. The motel, located across the street from Brooks’ church, was shut down over problems with drugs, prostitution and violence.
Now he wants to replace it with a brand new community center for the Woodlawn and Englewood neighborhoods, in order to provide kids a safe place to spend their free time and create retail opportunities for local residents.
Brooks has said local children need more alternatives to joining street gangs, which leads to dealing drugs and shooting each other.
He’s said, if neighborhoods plagued by gang violence are not enhanced with community centers, better retail options, and other improvements, then violence problems will only persist.
Brooks and his supporters weren’t letting Sunday’s hot and humid conditions stop them. Quinn said they’re determined to send a message of peace.
“Whether the day is hot, or whether the day is cold, or anything in between, we’ve got to commit ourselves – day after day, week after week, month after month – to take on those who would perpetrate violence in our society, who would take away our young children,” Quinn said. “We aren’t going to permit that to happen in Illinois or anywhere else.”
Families from all kinds of backgrounds joined Sunday’s walk, saying they’re committed to ending the violence on Chicago’s streets.
Rev. Stephen Nance, minister of outreach for Brooks’ New Beginnings Church, said, “We’re not going to stop until this violence ends in our community. … I love children. I just hate to see the senseless violence of children killing children, that’s what it is.”
Nance brought his grandchildren with him to walk with Brooks on Sunday.
By Friday, Brooks had raised only about $50,000 toward his $15 million goal. He expects to complete his walk to Los Angeles by the end of September.