The family of a 13 year old boy who was shot and killed by Chicago police hopes to honor his memory by starting a non profit organization to help at-risk kids.
Adam Toledo’s family made the announcement Wednesday, on what would have been his 14th birthday.
“Adam was 13 years old. He deserves to be here right now celebrating his 14th birthday with his friends and family,” his sister Esmeralda Toledo said. “He was a kid who was just learning his way around the world and he deserves the chance to make mistakes and learn from them.”
The young boy was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer two months ago following a foot chase in an alley. The incident was caught on body cam video, and the release of the footage sparked intense backlash and outrage.
“This child from Little Village is the youngest victim to be shot by Chicago police in the past 30 years,” said attorney Adeena Weiss Ortiz.
During an unveiling of a new mural honoring Toledo’s life near Ogden and Lawndale, the family shared their vision to open Adam’s Place—more than three and a half hours away from Chicago in a small town of Potosi, Wisconsin.
“We want Adam’s Place to be the kind of place where boys like Adam make friends who will care about them and not try to get them into trouble,” said Weiss on behalf of Toledo’s mother.
Elizabeth “Betty” Toledo still grieving the death of her son couldn’t bring herself to speak at the press conference Wednesday afternoon. Attorney Adeena Weiss Ortiz read a letter Toledo's mother had prepared.
“What I really want is to have Adam back and I can’t do that,” said Weiss. “But we can try to help other families protect their sons from the temptations that took Adam into the streets that night.”
The goal of Adam’s Place is to serve at risk teens from Chicago and the Midwest in a rural setting, like a farm. Attorneys for the family said the idea came from another successful program called Boys Farm in Newberry, South Carolina.
Boys Farm provides a safe haven for young boys going through difficult and challenging times and offers different programs and resources on the farm to help them grow and overcome those challenges.
“We believe that 'Adam’s Place' will be all that Adam would have wanted and so much more that he could have imagined,” said Weiss.
Family hopes to break ground on 'Adam’s Place' sometime in September and have it up and running by next summer.
As for the police investigation, the family’s attorney said Toledo did not have a gun in his hand when he was shot. Chicago police recovered a gun nearby, and say that Toledo discarded the weapon behind a fence while he was running from an officer. The city's Civilian Office of Police Accountability is still investigating the shooting, and no recommendations have been made at this time.