CHICAGO – Hundreds of people carried crosses Saturday for each person slain in Chicago this year during a quiet march along Michigan Avenue.
The 3-foot-tall crosses were each engraved with the name of a homicide victim. The silence of the march was punctuated by demonstrators who spoke each name aloud. Authorities say more than 760 people were killed in Chicago in 2016. There were fewer than 500 homicides in the city last year.
March organizer the Rev. Michael Pfleger said he hopes the visuals of the protest along Chicago’s premiere retail street will inspire people to take action to reduce violence in 2017.
“This is a Chicago problem,” Pfleger said. “The reason we’re on Michigan Avenue is because this is a Chicago problem. And until everybody in Chicago decides it’s their problem we’re not going to end it.”
Before the march Kelly Fitzgerald Clark found a cross with the name of her late husband. She cried as her son waded into a sea of crosses and retrieved it.
“We thought nobody cared,” she said. “I lost my husband in February. Homicide. We didn’t know it was going to be like this.”
The crosses were made by Greg Zanis, of Aurora.
“I just want to tell everybody my heart’s broken for you,” Zanis said. “I don’t know what else to do but I did a little bit of work for you guys.”
After Saturday’s march, the crosses will be placed in a vacant lot on the city’s South Side.