CHICAGO (CBS) — A well-known mothers group threatened to take down a controversial display that they said emphasized the negative image people have of Englewood.
What promised to be a hostile confrontation turned into a tearful embrace.
“This is a very emotional issue for all of us. I completely understand where you’re coming from,” said Greg Zanis.
It started when Zanis, a retired carpenter, made crosses that represented Chicago murder victims all over the city, and placed them in an Englewood vacant lot.
“I’m trying to remember their sons and daughters,” Zanis said.
But people in Englewood objected, saying the neighborhood is not just the beleaguered community so often seen in the news. They said the crosses made it look like a cemetery.
“Then plopped in a neighborhood that already has that label really undermines a lot of the work people do to change the negative perception here,” said R.A.G.E. member Asiaha Butler.
The Moms many have come to know for setting barbecue grills on Englewood corners to curb violence vowed to take the crosses away.
Zanis was defiant.
“I understand that I might be a little controversial, but sometimes that just goes with the territory,” he said.
But when the Mom’s leader Tamar Manasseh arrived Tuesday afternoon, there was no anger.
She showed Zanis where her family members had been murdered. Too much death there already, Manasseh said. The crosses did not affirm life.
Both made a promise to continue the conversation, but for now, the crosses stay.
“I still believe it does look like a cemetery,” Manasseh said. “It does. But people are just as passionate about memorializing their dead and their loved ones. This morning I didn’t understand that side of the coin.”
Until, Manasseh said, she spoke to families of the murder victims represented on those crosses.