Today NBA players and community leaders united to take a stand in the recent gun violence across Chicago. Church Pastor Corey Brooks and other volunteers also too to the street – sending a message of peace and calling on everyone to help stop the killings. NBC5’s Regina Waldroup reports.
From community leaders to NBA players, Chicagoans worked Saturday to recover after a violent shooting devastated the city and thrust area violence back into the national spotlight.
The first rally of Chicago residents and advocates took place in the same neighborhood where 13 people were wounded in a spray of gunfire on a basketball court two days earlier. Three-year-old Deonta Howard was the youngest victim, police said.
Witnesses said several gunmen fired at least 20 shots at a group gathered at Cornell Square Park, on the 1800 block of W. 51st Street, shortly before 10:15 p.m. The spray of bullets sent a mass of people to the ground on the basketball courts.
Chicago's top police official, Supt. Garry McCarthy said an assault-style rifle with a high capacity magazine was used in the park shooting.
Armed with fliers and a strong message, community members took to the streets Saturday night in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.
"If you keep pushing and keep pushing something will tip over," said Rev. Corey Brooks of the New Beginnings Church. "This is our effort to push forward."
Those out during the weekend event said police are getting cooperation from the witnesses, but the right eyewitness needs to tell what they know.
"The right people ain’t talking," said Dawn Valenti with Chicago Citizens for Change.
Hours earlier, young men from six rival gangs put their beefs aside for the Chicago Peace Basketball Tournament.
“You bring everybody together, like you work as a team,” said participant Duan Hill.
In a packed gym at St. Sabina's Church, former NBA players joined current stars like Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls in support of an event that aims to get gang members to shoot hoops instead of guns.
“I do this because I want to listen to you guys, I want listen to what you guys have to say, I want make Chicago a better place,” Noah said to the dozens of Chicago youths participating in the tournament.
“They were shooting and trying to kill each other months ago, but you bring them in the gym, you put them in a uniform and they get to know each other,” said former NBA star Isaiah Thomas.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel threw up the jump ball.
“It’s events like this that reminds us the bonds and the sense that brings a community together,” he said.
"The parks in the city of Chicago belong to the families of the city of Chicago, the streets of the city of Chicago belong to families of Chicago, the front stoops of our homes belong to the families of the city of Chicago," Emanuel said. "You go out there and enjoy our city because they do not own or belong or have no place for gangs. And assault weapons do not belong in our parks, they do not belong on our streets."
Participants in Saturday's tournament, said the event has the potential to make a difference in the city.
“It was a great thing for us do, to come together and play basketball this afternoon,” said participant Jevon Flucker. “We lost, but we still had fun.”