Pastors, teacher show support for students after shooting near Michele Clark

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Faith leaders gathered Monday morning outside Michele Clark High School to show their support for students after three teens were shot Friday afternoon just steps from the Austin school.

It was the second shooting near a Chicago public school in less than a week. On Wednesday, four young people were shot across the street from Schurz High School in the Old Irving Park neighborhood.

Melissa Hughes, a teacher at Michele Clark High School, created a GoFundMe fundraiser Sunday after Friday’s shooting in Austin. Two of the teens injured are students at Michele Clark, she said.

“Fortunately, both young people are expected to make full recoveries. The incident happened at the end of our school day very close to our school. Because of this, many of our students witnessed the event and will have to walk by the spot where the violence occurred,” Hughes shared on the GoFundMe.

“I’m fundraising on behalf of our students to support their emotional and physical safety,” Hughes wrote. “Many churches, organizations and community members have reached out to our school inquiring about how to support our young people.”

Hughes’ solution includes creating a “space of nourishment and care near and at the spot where the violence occurred. We are asking for donations for physical and emotional nourishment: bottled water, healthy proteins, fruits and veggies (that we will grill), coloring books, stress balls and whatever else our young people and community members deem necessary in our journey to provide a supportive, communal response to this trauma.”

The fear of gun violence just days after CPS began its school year has many on edge, community leaders say.

Community organizer Maretta Brown Miller called on West Side faith leaders to assemble from 7:15 to 8:15 a.m. Aug. 29 to pray and welcome students back. Among the clergy present were Pastor Marshall Hatch and Rev. Ira Acree.

“First days of schools are for ringing bells not ringing shots,” said Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Church and the Leaders Network. “All of us are responsible for ensuring our children a safe passage to and from school.”

“We call upon every resident and institution in our city to make the safety of our students a priority,” said Acree, pastor of Greater St John Bible Church. “We will be on the front line welcoming students Monday morning and standing with them in prayer for a safe and successful year.”

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