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I was in a small town called Traralgon, and everyone there was just wonderful, and I didn’t feel like I had to worry when I left my house, even being a foreigner there. I didn’t feel like I had to worry about gun violence. I mean, it’s just not something that you turn the news on and hear about, and so you feel safe, you feel comfortable.
Diane Latiker, Chicago
Latiker is the mother of four sons, ages 48, 47, 44 and 40, and four daughters, ages 46, 43, 42 and 30. She is the founder of Kids Off the Block, a nonprofit organization that provides recreational activities and educational support for young people in Chicago.
Police violence has always been there. We who live in these communities, we already know all this. We know that there’s nothing done if one of our own is killed in our community. We know that there’s very little justice. And we’ve always been saying it’s wrong. And “when are we going to get a break?” And “when are they going to stop killing us?” You know? But nobody was listening.
They send new recruits who don’t have any sense about the community or who we are. So they have nothing invested here. Several years ago, I partnered with the police department for three years to do a program called Bridging the Divide. There were 15 officers who would come to my home every Thursday and they would meet with the young people that I serve, mostly male. And none of the kids wanted to talk to the police. It was tense at first, but it gradually grew to 32 young men who just built relationships with those officers. It changed the dynamic. And so, I wish they would invest more into that, but they don’t seem to; they want to keep the Police Department separate from the community. I think they’re missing a great opportunity.
Trish Lowry, Philadelphia
Lowry is the mother of a 20-year-old daughter and a 30-year-old son who was injured in a shooting when he was 22. She is a board member of the ECO Foundation, an nonprofit organization focused on providing food, employment and education.
What’s going on in our city right now is just, it’s just mayhem. Just pure mayhem. A lot of shootings. And young children are being caught in the crossfire now.
My son Kyle was shot at a New Year’s Eve party seven years ago. He was just hanging out. Someone came in and got in an argument with somebody. My son’s friend was killed. Another friend was shot. Kyle was shot six times because he was standing up; he was in shock. My son was telling the police officer, “Just tell my mother I love her.