Night Out event focuses on keeping community safe

Light flooded a large parking lot at the corner of Church Street and Dodge Avenue Tuesday night as community members and leaders gathered in a show against violence, in one of a number of National Night Out ceremonies in Evanston.

A wide range of representatives from the religious community – including faith leaders from the Catholic, Jewish and Muslim communities – joined organizer Carolyn Murray to speak out against an atmosphere of violence.

The night’s theme was “what can we do for safety,” said Murray, whose son, Justin, was fatally shot in 2012.

The event was not so much to talk about the tragedies, “as what we can do as community overall to do better for ourselves,” she said.

Faith leaders took turns reading the names of Evanston residents whose lives had been cut short by violence as community members cupped lit candles and bowed their heads.

“Our nation has been at war since many of our young children were born,” declared the Rev. Taurus K. Scurlock, pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 1113 Clark St. “We see violence in the movies, on programs and video games, and many come to believe that violence is a way of life, that violence is normal.

“Violence is abnormal, and I pray that the mindset of our youth and our nation change.”

Murray asked Minister Sherry Walker, of Bethany Baptist Church, 1225 Elmwood Ave., to call up family members at the event who had lost loved ones.

“I want everyone to look around and see the ones who are here,” said Walker after calling off the names. “I lost my son [Ronald Walker] 18 years ago over there on the corner of Church and Dodge because of mistaken identity, but there have been many more that went before my son and many more that went after my son.”

Alderman Delores Holmes, the Evanston Community Development Corporation, Evanston Township High, 5th Ward West, Christ Temple Church and Evanston’s Target Store were sponsors of the event.

Target representatives raffled off two bicycles and a scooter, the proceeds going to ECDC. They also brought school supplies and toys for younger community members.

“We had some obstacles,” Murray said about the event, which draws on city support, “but overall the community was very well pleased.”

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