Gang members from the Chicago area have been invited to attend a weekend panel discussion with community leaders and survivors of violence in an effort to end the bloodshed in some of the city's most impoverished neighborhoods.
The two-day event, which is has garnered the attention of international media, begins Friday evening with a prayer vigil at House of Hope, on the 700 block of East 114th Street. The "National Unity Summit Review" is all day Saturday.
Both events are open to the public.
Friday's event welcomes church members, community groups and victims' families. Family members of those who've fallen victim to violence are expected to speak, including Nortasha Stingley, whose daughter was gunned down in June.
Fr. Michael Pfleger and Secretary of State Jesse White are scheduled to join Saturday's panel discussions, which will focus on the influence of music, social media and parent influence. Business leaders will also talk to the youth in attendance about jobs and internships.
The summit comes a little more than a week after a mass shooting at a south side park put Chicago's gang violence problem back into headlines around the world. The city was thrust into the national spotlight earlier this year following the death of Hadiyah Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl who was shot as she sought cover from a rain storm just days after President Barack Obama's second inauguration. Police have since employed a number of tactics aimed at reducing crime, including infiltrating problem areas with foot patrols and paying as many as 400 officers overtime each night to increase patrols in certain neighborhoods.