Gathered around the corner where gunshots claimed the life of one teenager and injured four others, community leaders on December 1 denounced gun violence and pledged to redouble efforts in programs to lead young people in positive directions. The ceremony was sometimes solemn, sometimes fiery.
Evanston Police received numerous 911 calls around 7:17 p.m. on November 28, reporting multiple gunshots heard in the Green Bay Road and Foster Street area.
Officers responded to 1950 Green Bay and found five shooting victims, police said. A victim, Carl Dennison, 17, died at the scene, police said.
The Evanston / North Branch NAACP held the “Stop the Violence” rally at the Mobil gas station near where the shooting took place.
The NAACP “offers its deepest condolences to the Dennison family,” said Reverend Michael Nabors, NAACP local president and moderator of the event, “and a renewed commitment to the families of surviving adolescents against whom we will continue the fight against violence and firearms.
“We agree with the mayor in his pledge that the Evanston Police Department will do everything to shed light on what happened and redouble their efforts to prevent violence. Yes, it must be done. But we must also do more, ”he stressed.
“There is no valid reason on earth why five teenagers standing in this corner of Evanston should be shot,” Nabors said.
Likewise, he said: “There is also no justifiable reason why students at a high school in Oxford, Mich., Should be shot by another student yesterday.
“Those who committed the crime must be apprehended,” he said, referring to Sunday night’s shooting in Evanston. “Every resource must unearth those who pulled the triggers that killed and injured some of our city’s most valuable commodities, our children.
“The cavalier attitude to gunfire in our nation, the blatant disregard for the value of human life, a certain erasure of common values and the madness of a society which now accepts the death of its young people are symptoms of ‘a sick and sick nation, “he said.
“After our sorrows, after our condolences, after a desire to help and assist the victims and their families,” he said, leaders must “with foresight and due diligence mobilize our community like never before, [and] work to develop a collaboration of youth, community groups, agencies and programs, many of whom are represented here today.
“Opportunities and programs need to be supported and others put in place that specifically target youth and young adults at risk. Our [NAACP] The branch will have as many resources as possible to help identify essential education programs, high-tech and well-paid training and workforce development programs that will give young people the opportunity to excel and not die.
“We must intervene before a crisis and not after. We need to provide alternative routes, not dead ends. We must prepare a successful plan and not engage in empty rhetoric.
“There is no doubt in our mind that the resources are here in our city,” he said, “resources that have the potential to make a difference in the lives of every young person. If we have to reach one young person at a time, then we have to do it now. “
Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss, who followed Reverend Nabors to the makeshift pulpit, as well as District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon; Willie Shaw, chair of the NAACP Political Action Committee; and Bobby Burns, Council member for the Fifth Ward where the shots took place – also stressed the need for concerted action.
“It’s a disease,” said Biss, “a profound illness that comes with the availability of guns and the willingness of individuals to use them.”
Echoing the statements of Reverend Nabors, he said: “We must devote all available resources to violence prevention efforts. We need to invest those resources that, yes, are here in this community right now, are adequate in this community right now, to this critical effort. “
In this effort, he said, “we must combine this work of preventing violence in the streets with the creation of economic opportunities and readily available jobs and efforts to develop the workforce. to demonstrate that there are ways forward.
“We have to work together and we cannot begin to accept this situation as inevitable,” said the mayor. He acknowledged the presence of several members of city council, including Burns; Melissa Wynne, 3rd arrondissement, and Jonathan Nieusma of the 4th arrondissement.
Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, meanwhile, spoke about the vibe in the high school community after the shooting, saying it was “unimaginable that five young people from our community were shot dead when they were just coming here to get something to eat. tea in Arizona.
“Tragic is not a big enough word,” he said. “And the fact that one of these teenagers died only adds to the tragedy.
“I hope that today all of you are feeling outrage,” he said, addressing the audience, “because it is scandalous. And what we have to do is is to transform our indignation into renewed action.
“I know we believe our children deserve a future. I know we believe our children deserve to be safe in this community. And I know we believe that as a community we all have a responsibility for the safety and future of our children.
Shaw of the NAACP also spoke about the collective responsibility of the community.
“The black community and other communities of color have seen decades of disinvestment,” she said. “It is a malignant cancer in our country, and this cancer will continue until it is properly treated.
“But more police is not the answer,” she said. “Excessive confidence in the tools of arrest, prosecution [and] incarceration has only hurt our communities and has not made us safe.
“Unfortunately, we are still here because of the violence,” she said.
“But children are not born violent. It is learned behavior. We all need to do a better job of preparing our young people to become better citizens.
“It means parents have to do better. This means that they have to ask for help when they need it.
“There is a lack of investment in our school children. Schools must do better.
“There is a lack of investment for our children in our churches. The churches must do better.
“Evanston is fortunate to have a tremendous amount of programming. They need to make these programs available and accessible to our children.
“We have a huge number of civic programs, clubs, sororities, fraternities – they all need to do better for our children,” she said.
“We need to have programs that expose our children to the richness and breadth of our nation. Our leaders need to get out of their cars and shelters to build positive relationships for our youth. Our children deserve it and we must be there for them.
Burns, the final speaker, addressed the aftermath of the violence suffered by the community.
“One of the terrible things that violence does is that it takes our voices away and makes people isolate themselves more,” he said.
“And so I want to let everyone in the community know not to lose your voice. Don’t feel isolated. I am here in the community to tell anyone about this incident. “
“I said this yesterday at a Fifth Ward meeting that the calling I want is somebody say, ‘Look, I’ve got a young man, a young man in my house who I think could. be involved in violence and think he might have a gun. ‘
“I want this call; call me, ”Burns said. “And I’m not talking about the police response – they do what they do in a different program. But call me, ”he said, referring to the city’s resources to deter violence.