Chicago police officer Denise Gathings-Harris has seen gang violence up close and how children as young as 12 are recruited into their ranks. That is why she wrote the play, “My Soul Cries Out Stop” -- hoping the pen is mightier than the sword.
“Throw this in their faces, so if they see it they will basically be like, ‘I don't want to be part of that,’" Gathings-Harris told FOX 32.
The play features young children being shot and killed by gang members, and although the content is harsh, the play’s young stars understand how much worse the reality is.
“I'm too young to die, but I’m not too young to understand what to do and what not to do,” 11-year-old Heaven Robinson said about the play’s graphic nature.
Co-star Daniel Brown, 10, echoed her sentiments. “It’s a lot of kids that want to be something, but the next day they get shot and get killed.”
It’s the type of violence that is all too familiar to students at Leif Ericson Scholastic Academy where the play was performed. Former student Amari Brown was an innocent bystander two years ago when he was shot and killed. He was 7 years old.
Principal Leavelle Abram hopes that this play impacts his students. “I have a couple of kids now that gangs have come up here looking for,” said the principal. “If I can catch these kids at a young age, then I have them with me from pre-K up, maybe we can make a difference.”
Hopefully these students can avoid a similar fate, and one day gang violence will only be a work of fiction. Watch the video to see how this play can stop gang violence.