The next time one of your ignorant Facebook friends asks what are Black people doing about “Black on Black crime,” you can tell them about the “Army of Moms” on the South side of Chicago.
This…vintage news somehow slipped under our radar about a month ago, but we felt it was an important and inspirational story that needed to be told.
According to DNAinfo.com, these concerned women, mothers, started patrolling their neighborhoods in late June after the death of Lucille Barnes. The group of volunteers calls themselves Mothers Against Senseless Killings. The women wore pink shirts, sat in folding chairs and leaned on mailboxes hoping to prevent retaliation.
According to police Barnes, 34, was killed after a man walked by her and two other women and opened fire.
Tamar Manasseh, Englewood resident and founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killings, said “People are very emotional about it, and we don’t know what’s going to happen. If people say there will be violence, there likely will be violence, and you go where you are called.”
Manasseh organized the event for the first time after this particular shooting, hoping that people would be dissuaded from shooting if they were being watched by a mother figure, 15 mother figures, to be exact.
Manasseh said, “If you’re trying to shoot someone and we’re out here, you’re not getting off the block.”
The group plans to be on that corner everyday, for four hours, from now until Labor Day.
If and when another shooting happens, the mothers will move to make sure the neighborhood knows the mothers are watching.
The group, who is working without the help of police, brought grills and hot dogs to show that the message is coming from community members rather than law enforcement.
Manasseh said, “This is about reconnecting with children that haven’t been mothered that much. Take away the guns, and they’re just kids.”
Manasseh and others in her community believe that parents had relinquished authority to their teenaged children and the violence in Southside is a result of that.
The goal now is to change the mindset and not just simply take the guns away.
So far, it’s worked. according to another piece in DNAinfo, five weeks after Barnes’ murder there have been no shootings on the block or on the 7500 block of South Harvard where the patrols are set up.
Still, Manasseh says that the group needs more volunteers.
Right now there are about 15 adult volunteers who have pledged to be out every day until Labor Day. It’s the same number of people they had initially after the June shooting.
She laments the brevity of people’s attention spans.
“It’s hard to keep their interests between tragedies.”
One community leader cited fear as the reason Manasseh hasn’t seen more participation.
“It’s not easy. Our people are afraid so they don’t participate.”
Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case with the teens from the neighborhood. At least 24 teenagers have taken an interest in keeping their community safe and have started participating in the patrols.
The ultimate goal is to get people on other blocks to follow Manasseh’s example and start their own patrols in their own neighborhoods. Manasseh plans to hold an orientation in the future to teach conflict resolution and strategic placement.
In an earlier interview, Manasseh said, “A mother’s love is selfless, annoying and always there. This is what mothers do best, get in the way.”
If you’re interested in helping Manasseh and her cause, you can learn more here.