Social media photo campaign angry over Chicago violence

  • Bryant Cross founded the 500 Campaign, a grassroots social media campaign to raise awareness of Chicago's violence problem.
Bryant Cross founded the 500 Campaign, a grassroots social media campaign…
March 21, 2013|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco | RedEye

Solving the violence problem in Chicago seems so massive, so insurmountable to its residents.

"I want to do something. But what can you really do?" said South Sider Bryant Cross, 28. He found that his morale for the city where he was raised has been low given the homicide rate.

After reading stories about how January was a bloody month for Chicago, he happened to go through some old photos and came across one where he was angry and shouting. He slapped a caption on it and posted it on social media.

Ten minutes later, he got emails from friends asking him to do the same to their photos. In one day, he had almost 100 photos. Two and a half weeks later, there are about 1,000 photos now part of what he's called the 500 Campaign.

He tweets the photos, posts them to Facebook and uploads them to Instagram all in an effort to increase awareness of the problem. He saw a flurry of photos after 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins was shot and killed last week.

"I wanted to put out there we as Chicagoans are not adjusted to this violence," said Cross, who has lost people close to him to gun violence. "There are a bunch of people in Chicago--I got photos from all over the country--who are not OK with the violence."

Knowing other Chicagoans care picked up his spirits, he said, and led him to call for a day of peace June 10. He's asking everyone to get three people to pledge to no violence on that day.

"Having a day of peace is like a Kickstarter [campaign] to create a new culture in Chicago," Cross said. "I wanted Chicago to sit down and pause and notice that this is a day in Chicago where violence is not a topic and that peace is the topic."

Track every Chicago homicide by neighborhood, age, race and more on our homicide map and follow along with our coverage of Chicago violence here.

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