CHICAGO (CBS) — On the heels of the city’s most violent weekend of the year, with 66 people shot, activists are pushing for better police-community relationships across the country at National Night Out.
The annual event is designed to raise awareness about drug prevention programs, neighborhood watch groups, and other crime-fighting efforts.
In the Chicago Police Department’s Ogden District, National Night Out will feature free food and drinks.
Police are calling it an evening of fun, but after this weekend’s shootings, some people in the district are too scared to come outside. Many just saw officers on their streets, taking photos of bullet casings and tending to gunshot victims.
Six people were shot Sunday morning near the corner of Douglas and Millard, including an 11-year-old child. The gunfire killed 17-year-old Jahnae Patterson, who wanted to be a lawyer.
About a half mile away, near 16th and Avers, four people were shot at a block party when two gunmen pulled up in a white Chevy Impala, and opened fire on the crowd. The youngest victim was 13.
Across the city, gunfire killed 12 people and wounded 54 others in less than three days.
That means a sense of urgency likely will permeate this year’s National Night Out in Chicago.
Police have pleaded with witnesses to come forward with information about this weekend’s gun violence. Some people say that’s not so easy.
“If someone do step up, and try to talk, things happen to their family, and things like that; or something happens to them. And who’s going to protect the people who’s stepping up to talk?,” said Gresham resident Seretha Barfield.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said authorities take steps to protect witnesses when they come forward about crime.
“We work hard with the detective division, we work hard with the state’s attorney’s office to ensure these people if you do come forward and testify, it’s our obligation and responsibility to keep you safe,” he said.
Creative Scott, owner of a salon in the Lawndale neighborhood, said he is telling people to come forward and turn in those responsible for shootings in their neighborhoods.
“If they don’t turn them in, and they know it, or they know something, they might as well have the gun in their hands themselves,” he said.
Police said there have been no arrests in any of this weekend’s shootings.