CHICAGO (CBS) — Six women are part of a mom’s group none of them wanted to join. They share pain, tears, and stories of how they lost a child to Chicago’s gun violence during their Parents For Peace and Justice meetings.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports the women share another bond that keeps their pain all too fresh.
Twice a month, Elizabeth Ramirez heads into the basement of a Logan Square church, arranges photos, and waits for other mothers to put down their photos of their children lost to Chicago gun violence.
“Yeah, we’re all grieving moms and it’s horrible,” said Annette Flores. “My son was only 19.”
Annette Flores’ son, Neftali Reyes Jr., was chased and gunned down December 29th at Grand and Western for no reason.
“He was on break from college. He got a scholarship to go play baseball,” said Flores.
Flore says she goes to the mom group to receive comfort from other mothers who have also lost their children due to violence. It’s a type of loss, she says, only other mothers going through similar circumstances can understand.
“Here we let out our pain, emotions, and sometimes we just have a good cry,” stated Jeannie Hernandez. Her son, Leno Diaz, was shot dead in his car at the end of his driveway as he was leaving for work in Cicero in 2012.
“They’re the only ones who understand,” stated Diane Mercado, a mother of a gun violence victim.
Ramirez started the group a year after her son Harry “DJ” Rodriguez was shot by a masked gunman at his own birthday party. He died shielding others from the bullets.
“Somebody has to be there. Somebody has to be there to support them so they’re not by themselves. I’m here for you. Yes, [it’s painful] because it takes me back,” said Ramirez.
None of their childrens’ murders have been solved.
“There is no justice right now for our kids,” said Darlene Velazquez. Her 32-year-old son, Hector, was murdered in 2016, shot in front of his father’s store on Grand.
The moms’ frustration spotlights the declining rate at which murders are solved. In 2011, when Ramirez’s son was killed, Chicago’s murder clearance rate was 43%. According to the University of Chicago’s crime lab, it dropped to 26% in 2016. That’s compared to the national clearance rate of 59.4%.
That doesn’t keep Diane Mercado from pushing police to find the person who killed her 15-year-old daughter, Veronica.
“They said as long as I have no one to come forward and talk to them, they can’t help me. There’s nothing they can do,” said Mercado.
Irma Aragon’s 21-year-old son, Israel Aragon, Jr., was shot in 2016 on Chicago’s north side.
“They were taken from us through gun violence. Something that should definitely be controlled, something that should definitely be tackled,” said another mother in the group.
Most of the six mothers feel there are not enough detectives or believe their cases are just not a top priority. They say that adds to their pain.
For more information on the group Elizabeth Ramirez helped start, visit https://www.parentsforpeaceandjustice.org/