Cleopatra Pendleton, mother of slain teenager Hadiya Pendleton, speaks… (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago…)
No matter how much or how little time has passed, the heartache was still very real for parents who on Wednesday shared tearful stories about children they lost to violence in Chicago.
“I have not yet accepted the fact that my daughter has been murdered,” said Cleopatra Pendleton, whose 15-year-old daughter, Hadiya, was shot and killed in January at a park near President Obama’s home.
“I was looking forward to her Sweet Sixteen. I was looking forward to teaching her how to drive,” Pendleton said. “Violence is something her father, her brother and I - it’s as if we never thought we would have to, I guess, discuss or really tackle head on.”
Friends and families of Chicagoans who died from violence recounted the suffering they have endured in an effort to spark conversation about what can be done to help end the violence in the city at the "Creating Peace on Chicago Streets" forum at North Park University.
Pendleton told the crowd of more than 100 people that she is establishing Hadiya’s Foundation to help the community in need of educational, economic and social services.
Klyn Jones, who is struggling with the death of her best friend, said she’s trying to help keep Hadiya’s spirit alive with the creation of an organization for youth against violence. She called on people to wear orange on April 1 as a signal not to shoot them.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. Every time something happens to me or I have something really funny that I want to tell her, I have to remember that I can’t,” Jones said. “I can’t hear her laugh. I can’t see her smile. And it hurts.”
Pamela Hester Jones started the Lazarus Jones Save Our Children Campaign in honor of her son, who was killed on Feb. 19, 2007.
She urged people to break the code of silence. Despite a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of her son’s killer, no one is in custody, she said.
“The problem is we keep silent about violence all the time. It doesn’t matter that it’s not your child or your family members. When you see crime, say something about it,” Jones said.
Her son Lazarus was with a group of friends at Lawrence Avenue and Troy Street where he was approached by men in a van who beat him to death. He was 13 years old.
“He was not in gangs. He was not in trouble. He never had a fight in his entire life,” she said.
Ron Holt, a Chicago police officer whose 16-year-old son, Blair, was killed in 2007 when he was shot on a CTA bus, spoke about creating a culture of civility.
With three photos of Blair next to him, Holt remembered the call he received on May 10, 2007 that Blair was shot on his way home from school.
“I had a hard time processing it because I couldn’t tell who was talking to me,” he said. “In all the years I’ve known Annette, Blair’s mom, I knew her voice. But this time I didn’t know who it was because it was such a tone that only a mom in pain could make, something that was like a shrill, like the highest octave of a vocal range. I couldn’t believe it was true.”
Losing his son has changed him.
“It made me have to be a stronger person. It made me have to be more involved in the community. It made me have to pay attention more. It made me have to look at the problem and look beyond the problem and see how I can make a difference,” Holt said.
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