CHICAGO (CBS) – A memorial march took place Saturday afternoon on Michigan Avenue as those touched by violence and others carried crosses representing Chicago murder victims.
On the crosses were the names of nearly 800 people lost to street violence in 2016.
Those carrying them, some family members, others strangers, stretched for about a city block. The only sound was the reading of each of their names. WBBM’s Mike Krauser reports.
Father Michael Pfleger organized the memorial. The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Chicago priest, said the crosses will be carried on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. in the shopping district along Michigan Avenue.
“This is a Chicago problem,” Pfleger said. “The reason we’re on Michigan Avenue is because this is a Chicago problem. And until everybody in Chicago decides it’s their problem we’re not going to end it.”
Pfleger said he hopes the visual will put others into action to prevent violence in 2017.
“The last day of the year we will remember all of who’ve been shot and killed in 2016 (and prior),” Pfleger said in a statement. “We want to break the cycle of violence for 2017!”
Before the march Kelly Fitzgerald Clark found a cross with the name of her late husband. She cried as her son waded into a sea of crosses and retrieved it.
“We thought nobody cared,” she said. “I lost my husband in February. Homicide. We didn’t know it was going to be like this.”
She looked over the crosses stretching into the distance and said it was “unbelievable.”
People on the sidewalk appeared moved, as well.
The crosses were made by Greg Zanis of Aurora, each with a name of a person shot and killed in Chicago this year. There were more than 760 people killed in 2016.
“I just want to tell everybody my heart’s broken for you,” Zanis said. “I don’t know what else to do but I did a little bit of work for you guys.”
The wooden crosses he built each stood about 3 feet tall.
The hundreds of marchers went north on Michigan Avenue from the Tribune Tower and then returned before police opened the street to vehicle traffic.
After Saturday’s march, the more than 760 crosses will be placed in a vacant lot at 55th and Bishop on the city’s South Side.
The rally comes as loved ones mourn the loss of Yuri Hardy, one of the city’s latest shooting victims.
Hardy was shot Wednesday night in the Austin neighborhood while on his way home from a dance competition. He died Friday morning.
Family and friends held a candlelight vigil Friday night to remember the 19-year old.
Hardy’s sister told CBS 2 he was an honor student at Urban Prep Academy and expected to graduate in June. He was enjoying his senior year.
“Yuri was an amazing kid, he died doing what he loved, dancing,” said Kenyatta Horton, Yuri’s sister. “He was excited about going to prom, he was excited about going to college.”
Hardy’s dance team also performed in his honor Friday night.
Chicago police said they are investigating the shooting, but so far, no one is in custody.