CHICAGO -- Days after Lori Lightfoot announced her long-shot bid for Chicago mayor last spring, she marched for peace alongside gun violence victims and anti-gun advocates in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.
Just two days before she will succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Lightfoot returned to the neighborhood Saturday to support grieving families and proponents of stricter gun laws. This time she promised to use her mayoral powers to fight the city's endemic crime problem.
"We want the violence to end, and I'm going to work hard every single day to make sure that we do everything possible to create safe communities so our children don't have to grow up with fear as their constant companion," she told a cheering crowd of several hundred people.
Standing on the steps of Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, Lightfoot called for more economic investment and support for youth, saying many crimes are committed by people who "feel left out and disconnected from the legitimate economy, but also from themselves, their neighbors and their community."
"We need to do something to reach our young people who are drifting, who are not connected in healthy activities, and that is our responsibility as a community to make sure we bring the resources but we also touch these young people where they are and show them a different and better path," Lightfoot said.
The "Mothers March," as it was dubbed by organizers, was hosted by Mothers for Peace, Moms Demand Action, the Illinois Gun Violence Coalition, Precious Blood and Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, among others.
Lightfoot walked hand in hand with Kaylie, an 8-year-old from Back of the Yards who spoke at her election night victory party about her dreams of growing up to one day become president.
Before the event kicked off, Lightfoot reflected on her 2018 experience with the march.
"What they do here, what this march means, in this neighborhood, is really a story of people trying to find grace and peace and love," she said. "I think they have done it in a way that has permanently touched me, and so it's my honor to be back here."
Lightfoot remembered walking through the neighborhood and seeing streets that look like any street in the city, but then noticing one home where the bottom was boarded up completely and the top windows were covered with plywood. A family was living inside, Lightfoot said.