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Three dancers in long white skirts performing a routine
On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, the children of West Pullman gathered to stop the violence.

 

A crowd gathered in a parking lot, waiting for a performance to begin
In the parking lot of St. Titus One M.B. Church on South Emerald Avenue, members of the church’s Youth Anti-Violence and Mentoring Program stood up in front of friends and family, sharing works of art that they created to speak out against violence in their neighborhood.

 

At STO church mentor program, art competition encourages #WestPullman youth to fight violence, create a #SafeChicago

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Two men sitting in chairs drumming on plastic buckets
The “Stop The Violence” Artistic Expression Competition welcomed songs, raps, poems, dance routines, drawings or any form of creative expression—and offered a $100 prize for the most powerful statement.

 

Three girls in matching track jackets smiling at the camera
Designed to provide youth in the community with a safe, positive outlet for learning and connecting, the Anti-Violence and Mentoring Program teaches skills that range from anger management and coping with peer pressure, to academic success and job readiness.

 

A boy holding a microphone standing next to a piece of cardboard with the outline of a body marked in tape
This solo performer placed a tape outline representing a fallen body on the ground, then performed a skit imagining the aftermath of a death by gun violence. “But what about picking up your sister from school?” he asked. “Now, who will take her on a bike ride?”

 

A Chicago police officer holding a microphone and addressing the crowd
Showing solidarity from the Chicago Police Department’s 5th District, Officer Crawford addressed the friends and family who gathered in the late afternoon sun.

 

Characters in a puppet show
In addition to the creative entertainment, the Fun Fest also greeted neighbors with free food, music and a school supply giveaway.

 

Rev. Jones hands a check to the winner of the competition, holding a gold trophy
After the performances—and a difficult decision for the judges—Rev. Michael A. Jones, I honored the day’s most outstanding artist with a trophy and a $100 award.

 

A father holding a baby against his chest and smiling
As Chicago faced an escalation of violence over the holiday weekend, communities across the city gathered together to create safe spaces like this one—building trust, strengthening bonds, refusing to abandon their neighborhoods to violence, or to ever stop working toward peace.

 

A young boy holds his drawing of Superman, with the words It doesn't take a hero to stop violence. It can stop with just one difference, You.
One young artist shared his vision of a more peaceful world: a crayon drawing of Superman, with the words “It doesn’t take a hero to stop violence. It can stop with just one difference. You.”