CHICAGO (CBS) — A South Side pastor has been assembling an army of volunteers to take to the streets and build relationships with those intent on violence, in a new initiative to cut down on violent crime.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports Rev. Corey Brooks, pastor of New Beginnings Church in Woodlawn, was hoping to sign up 5,000 volunteers to man 500 blocks in neighborhoods where violence is happening.
“The men are going to be out on Fridays from 6 to 9, and then the women are going to be out on Saturdays from 12 to 3 on those same blocks,” he said.
Brooks said he’s already enlisted more than 2,500 volunteers for “Brothers on the Block” and “Sisters on the Block.”
The idea is to build relationships with kids in high-crime areas he dubbed “killing fields.”
Brooks said he’s aware the volunteers could sometimes be put in harm’s way.
“That’s the reason why we’re going to take every precaution,” he said. “The last thing we want to happen is people who are volunteering and donating their time to go out and get hurt, or get injured. So we’re doing everything we can to make sure that everybody stays safe.”
While there have been countless rallies, meetings, and marches in an effort to reduce violent crime in Chicago, Brooks said “we’ve got to get hands-on.”
“People talk about how they love the community, and how they love the people in the community. Love is an action word where you do things, and so we have to start doing the stuff that we talk about. We have to start putting up or shutting up,” Brooks said. “If we’re not going to put up, if we’re not going to roll up our sleeves, if we’re not going to build relationships with these kids, then we need to stop the photo-ops, we need to stop all the drama.”
He said he sees small steps in the right direction all the time.
Brooks noted, the other day, he saw kids playing outside his church, so he put up a basketball hoop in the parking lot, which soon became packed with children looking for and finding something to do.