CHICAGO (CBS) — The wake and funeral was held Wednesday for a high school student from Oak Park who was shot and killed just shy of his 17th birthday while out with friends in his old neighborhood in Chicago.
Friends of Elijah Sims wiped away tears as young pallbearers carried his casket into New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in the West Garfield Park neighborhood for the memorial service.
“You know, we’re talking about Elijah Sims probably because of the reaction in a very diverse community, Oak Park, to his tragic death; and I think we have to confront the reality that his life seems to matter more because it mattered to certain kinds of people,” said the church’s pastor, Rev. Marshall Hatch. “That’s something that we have to get away from. Every kid’s life should matter.”
Sims, 16, was shot in the 5500 block of West Quincy Street on Aug. 29 while hanging out with friends in the Austin neighborhood where he grew up. He died the next day, a day before his 17th birthday.
Two years ago, his mother had moved the family to nearby Oak Park , where he was a student at Oak Park and River Forest High School.
Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church in the Austin neighborhood, delivered the eulogy at the funeral on Wednesday.
“He was a protector. He even protected kids from bullies,” he said.
Acree said he hoped that some minds would be changed seeing black, white and brown mourners together at Sims’ funeral.
“If he had gotten killed for robbing someone, had he got shot being in a shootout with the police force, this funeral would be looked at rather differently today, but he was a good kid, and there is power in the blood of the innocent,” he said.
Acree and Hatch called Sims’ death a tale of two cities: Oak Park and Chicago.
“People from the inner city and the suburbs, this puts skin on a lot of statistics that people see,” Acree said.