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‘Is there any hope for Chicago?’: Pastor pleads for end to violence after 8-year-old girl shot in the head

Chicago shootings
Marchers, led by Cardinal Blase Cupich, walk through the Englewood neighborhood calling for an end to the violence that has plagued the city on April 14, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The marchers stopped several times to reflect on the Stations of the Cross and to read out the names of Chicago homicide victims. With 14 homicides so far in 2017, Englewood was one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city at the time. |

Is there any hope for Chicago? A local pastor is asking the question in response to an 8-year-old girl being shot in that city, a week after six other children were killed in a span of 24 hours.

“She’s in surgery now fighting for her life, and the question is, is there any hope for Chicago?” asked Pastor Corey Brooks, founder and senior pastor of New Beginnings Church of Chicago, in his video column on Fox News.

The pastor later learned that the girl did not survive.

The girl, identified as Melissa Ortega, and her mother were walking down a street in Chicago’s Little Village area last Saturday when a vehicle pulled up and fired at a man but it also hit the girl, FOX 32 reported.

“The chaos, the lawlessness is so bad in Chicago that the criminals openly mock our police and our city leaders, and even our governor,” the pastor said, noting that “two criminals broke into two stores and stole the cash registers ... drove over to Governor Pritzker’s home in Chicago, and … left the empty registers on his front lawn.”

“If that isn’t a message that the criminals are running the city,” he continued, “I don’t know what is.”

Then, the same criminals “joined other criminals and began to rob other stores,” Brooks added.

According to recently released data from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, 2021 was the most violent year Chicago has experienced since the birth of the 21st century.

The office reported 820 homicides in the Windy City last year, the highest since 1995, when 828 murders were reported, according to the Sun-Times Media Wire.

These and other statistics have led many to call Chicago the pejorative nickname “Chiraq,” the idea being that some parts of the city are more violent than war-torn countries like Iraq. 

Earlier this month, Pastor Isaac Paintsil, head of Christ’s Oasis Ministries, a multisite congregation with campuses in and near Chicago, told The Christian Post that the rising violence was “horrendous” and “heartbreaking.”

“At a certain point, how can mothers be grieving and families be grieving, fathers be grieving week after week after week after week?” Paintsil asked. “This is the real challenge that we are having, and the emotional toll on us is just unbelievable.”

Brooks says he has been working to counter violence and despair through Project H.O.O.D. and his community center on the second floor of his church.

“Before we started (the project), this very area was ranked as the most dangerous neighborhood in all of Chicago,” he said. “Now, because of our work, it doesn’t even make the list. You know why? Because we gave people in our community the most valuable thing you can give anyone: hope.”

The pastor explained that the project gave them hope “by building a relationship with the police to get the criminals off the street … by giving them a way out through trades and vocational training and rehab …. by helping them to get off drugs … by showing young men how to be fathers so they could break the cycle of fatherlessness in their families. ... We gave single mothers hope by providing male role models for their young boys, their young daughters.”

He then lamented that “our leaders” are “mocking our efforts with their wishy-washy ideas, like defund the police.”

“The police are not our enemy. Equity initiatives? Come on, we need equality of opportunity. All of this race talk in the classrooms? We need traditional and rigorous education,” he asserted.

“Yes, there is hope in Chicago. It starts with the people. Not our leaders — all of them …  I take what we know, what we must do to get the job done. We must continue to put it to work … there is hope in Chicago, and it starts with all of us.

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