They came into downtown Chicago by the busload, most from neighborhoods across the city.
“We’re in downtown because this is all of Chicago’s problem, not just the South Side or the West Side or Pilsen,” said Father Michael Pfleger.
Pfleger, of Chicago’s St. Sabina Church, lead dozens of demonstrators in a march down Michigan Avenue to lament the loss of hundreds and the shooting of thousands in 2014.
“We all lost 387 people last year,” he said. “Not just those biological families, Chicago lost them.”
Pfleger told marchers “we’re better than this” and urged protesters to stand against violence.
Many in the crowd attended the rally in memory of a lost loved one.
Becky Deakyne said her son’s 2011 murder remains unsolved.
“All we can do is hope,” she said. “It’s all we have left.”
Some attended the event to call for stricter gun control in the New Year.
“We are manufacturing guns in the United States, we are making them available in the streets, and that's how the crimes are happening,” said Joy McCormick, who lost a child to gun violence.
Demonstrators of all ages marched chanting “Don’t kill, don’t shoot.” At one point, several birds, resembling doves, were released into the sky as a symbol of peace.
The march lasted about an hour on New Year’s Eve as the city battled bitter temperatures and wind chills.