by Diana Pando
The Resurrection Project (TRP) hosted a Camp Out for Peace event to fight violence in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. On October 7th, youth, elected officials, and community partners came together to honor the memory of the lives lost to gun violence in neighborhoods throughout Chicago. The event took place outside of TRP’s Casa Hidalgo office that provides a variety of services and resources to residents in the Back of the Yards community.
This year, in Back of the Yards there have been 124 victims of gun violence. The most recent victim was Naome Zuber, a senior at Curie high school who wanted to major in criminal justice. According to the Chicago Tribune, to date there have been 4,368 shootings in various communities in Chicago.
Berto Aguayo, TRP’s new Safety and Nonviolence Community Organizer, is overseeing peace efforts in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, where he grew up. His first memory of Back of the Yards was hanging out on the porch, trading hot wheel cars with other children, and playing soccer in the alley. Taking the lead and organizing TRP’s Camp Out for Peace event was an important milestone for him.
A few years ago, Berto had fallen in with the wrong crowd and joined a gang. He was lucky to be able to leave the gang and transform his life. However, for many youth like Berto, this is not the case. Many are still leading a life of violence and negatively impacting the communities where they live. Today, Berto is passionate about creating and implementing peace and safety initiatives in his neighborhood.
“Our goal is to work with residents to build community leaders and activate them to make positive changes in the neighborhood,” said Berto. “It’s also important to continuously work with youth and help them become peace makers in the community.”
The Camp Out for Peace event helped to engage residents in a discussion on how to reclaim streets and get guns out of the neighborhood. Hard working families who live in Back of the Yards make up the majority of the community and deserve to live in a peaceful and safe environment.
Twenty-community organizations united for the event. Local businesses and residents donated everything from sandwiches, hot chocolate, to Air Jordan gym shoes. The day of the event, 200 community leaders and residents came to the vigil to honor the victims of gun violence. Neighborhood children also marched with their parents holding up signs calling for peace and an end to gun violence. The turn out demonstrated people’s investment in grassroots peace movements.
Supporters of the peace and safety event also included Commander Godsel and the Chicago Police Department and State Representative Elect (2nd District) Theresa Mah. The peaceful event demonstrated residents’ commitment to building healthy and safe communities.
This event is one of a series of peace and safety actions that TRP will be organizing and participating in throughout the month of October along with community partners in the neighborhood. If you would like to get involved please contact Berto Aguayo at firstname.lastname@example.org.