‘Our schools are a place where kids should be safe:’ faith leaders, community decry gun violence, call for peace in streets during downtown Chicago prayer walk

“We pray to increase the peace in our streets,” chanted a group of some 70 faith leaders and community members who crossed a bustling North Michigan Avenue on Saturday afternoon.

The rally, part of Hands Across Chicago 2022, is an annual Memorial Day weekend event for united prayer and peace across the city.

They began at 1 p.m. at the plaza in the 400 block of North Michigan Avenue and ended at Wrigley Square in the northwest section of Millennium Park with a few stops in between to pray and change up the chants to: “Getting it done, standing as one” and “Our schools are a place where kids should be safe.” Nineteen children and two adults were killed at an elementary school shooting in Texas earlier this week.

As the peace walkers made their way down Michigan Avenue, bystanders joined in on the chants and cheered them on as they passed.

Saturday’s walk was a “demonstration of the faith community’s unity” in calling for action against increasing violence in the city but also across the country, said Michael Eaddy, a pastor at People’s Church of the Harvest on the city’s West Side.

“We understand that our country in hurting,” Eaddy said. “We are seeing all sorts of gun violence, so we are taking a position today, as faith leaders, and decreeing peace in this district.”

James Meeks, a pastor at Salem Baptist Church in the city’s Pullman neighborhood on the Far South Side, said he and the group were “praying for a solution to the gun problem” in Chicago, Texas and wherever else it is happening.

“We need our senators in Washington, D.C. to come up with a comprehensive background check and gun legislation so that as we pray for peace, there will be no guns for people to shoot next Memorial Day,” Meeks said.

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