While a lot of people look forward to summer with eager anticipation, it often brings trepidation for residents who live in the Roseland community of Chicago. Homicides in that city soared by 60 percent in the first three months of 2012, and Roseland has not been spared from the violence that threatens to continue as temperatures rise.
But members of Roseland Christian Reformed Church want to take back their streets and showcase the good in their community.
On Friday, June 1, Roseland CRC joined forces with Pullman Christian Reformed Church and other community organizations to march for peace.
“Most of the media attention that comes to Roseland is when something bad happens,” said Joe Huizenga, Roseland’s pastor, and organizer of the event. “The idea was that we’d get people together to celebrate the good.”
Last October, one of Huizenga's church members was shot and killed. He was just 17 years old. “Losing him was a wake-up call,” Huizenga said. “We need more positive reinforcement. We need to lift up the good things and encourage our kids to be strong.”
Around 130 people participated in the march, which was well-received by shop owners and community residents. The march ended with a barbecue and concert.
“God has blessed this community with a lot of gifts, but the reality is there are a lot of gangs, and guns are accessible,” Huizenga said.
Kisha Pleasant, a member of Roseland CRC, participated in the march with two of her three children. “I have never done a march in Roseland, so it was a blessing to see everyone come together and unite for the same thing—people, love, and our children,” she said. “This is our community. We want peace for them to be able to grow up and be our future leaders.”
Roseland serves around 60 kids nearly every day of the week, shining a light in a community struggling with crime. Huizenga said he hopes to do more marches this summer on the first Friday of both July and August.