Anti-violence walk in Evanston ends day of mourning slain teen
Toni Bark, of Evanston, tears up during "Light Up Evanston," a candlelight vigil against violence that started at Evanston Township High School and went to the memorial for Dajae Coleman, the 14-year-old killed a week ago. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 5, 2012 6:56AM
EVANSTON — Shaun Myles attended the funeral for his cousin Dajae Coleman today (Sept. 29) and then joined other community members in a walking-candlelight vigil underscoring safety in the community.
An estimated crowd of thousands of people attended the funeral at the First Church of God Christian Life Center, 1524 Simpson St., in the morning, with mourners lined up to pay respects stretching around the block.
Tonight, Myles and others gathered at Church and Dodge streets and, cupping candles on the windless night, walked several blocks, stopping at the memorial set up at the spot where the popular youth was killed a week earlier.
The 14-year old’s slaying as he returned from a party with friends has brought a huge outpouring of support.
People ranging from city and school officials to Lebron James, Coleman’s favorite basketball player, in a tweet, have commented on the senselessness of the murder.
At the funeral and walk, supporters wore red shirts.
Some kneeled at the makeshift memorial set up where he was killed, leaving messages and other mementoes.
“It’s not going to bring him back,” Myles said of his cousin, a talented basketball player and good student whose death has jolted the community.
At the same time, community members are “stepping up to the plate,” and showing “they’re willing to fight violence, he said of the turnout to the walking anti-violence demonstration.
Evanston resident Karen Maxwell, whose two stepchildren attend Evanston Township High School, said she decided to organize the walk after reading some of the expressions of grief students were posting on Facebook. Within days of the shooting some 3,000 students had signed on to the site.
After reading the Facebook messages Maxwell decided she had to do something.
The walk drew residents, parents with children, fellow students of Dajae and others.
Maxwell was especially heartened to see so many young people.
“Our kids are going to run the city one day,” she said.
Tori Foreman, a resident of south Evanston, was one of those on the walk.
“I have a freshman the same age,” she said. “All I can think about is someone the same age got killed.”
She is not surprised at the response.
“I expected it of Evanston. It’s how we are,” Foreman said. “We’re not just going to let things happen. We’re going to do our best to solve the problem.”