Moms unite in effort to stop Chicago violence
Posted: Jul 30, 2015 3:20 PM CST
(CNN)The watchful eye of a mother can be hard to escape, which is why a group of mothers are banding together each day to walk the streets of a Chicago neighborhood that's rife with violence. They wear bright pink T-shirts that read \"Moms on Patrol\" because they want to do more than watch; they want to be seen.
Tamar Manasseh is the founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killings, the group organizing the patrols. Each day from 4 to 8 p.m., a group of about 15 volunteers congregates near the 7500 block of South Harvard Avenue in the Englewood area to begin the community patrol. They cook hot dogs and hamburgers, sit in lawn chairs and walk the neighborhood.
\"I'm a mom who hasn't lost children, and I don't want to,\" Manasseh told CNN affiliate ABC7. \"It's really hard to keep your kids alive in Chicago.\"
Those who join Manasseh are mostly mothers themselves.
Their patrols began after 34-year-old Lucille Barnes was shot and killed June 23 on a nearby street corner. Rumors swirled about a retaliation shooting, prompting Manasseh to act.
MASK organizes parents, especially mothers, to take more active roles in their children's lives to curb violence. It is a choice parents have to make, resident Daira Brooks told ABC7.
\"It's either a time commitment or a life commitment,\" Brooks said. \"The children are the ones who's being hurt out here. Do you go ahead and sacrifice some time to make sure your kids will stay alive?\"
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Beyond the time commitment, running the program is costly. Residents drop off cash donations and supplies, though Manasseh provides funding herself. The presence of the mothers, their tent and the grill are all a way to express a welcoming sense of community.
Englewood is the sixth-most dangerous community area in Chicago for violent crime, according to the Chicago Tribune. The report, which chronicled City of Chicago data, also states that the vast majority of violent crimes take place on the street or sidewalk, where MASK is patrolling. In the five weeks since the patrol began, there have been no shootings on the street corner.
The group refers to itself as a \"supplemental force\" to law enforcement. The Chicago Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.
MASK volunteers will be on the street every day until Labor Day, when the Chicago Public Schools Safe Passage program provides escorts to and from school for students.