FOX 32 NEWS - A Chicago police officer is using her talents as a playwright to help stop the city's violence. She wrote a play that showcases real-life stories from the streets, showing gang members, drug deals and gun violence.
Officer Denise Gathings-Harris wrote “My Soul Cries Out Stop” for kids as young as five and six-years-old. She has seen it all, including gang members as young as 12.
“These kids are controlling our city, its kids,” said Gathings-Harris about young gang recruitment. That’s why she wants elementary students to see her play.
“Throw this in their faces, so if they see it they will basically be like I don't want to be part of that," she said.
“My Soul Cries Out Stop” shows innocent kids being shot and killed by gang members on stage and their mothers calling out for help.
The young performers in the play said the weight of the play is heavy, but heavier is the reality of death.
Eleven-year-old Heaven Robinson plays a little girl shot and killed outside her school.
“I'm too young to die, but I’m not too young to understand what to do and what not to do,” said Robinson about the play being too graphic.
Students at Leif Ericson Scholastic Academy screened the play on a Saturday in March. Principal Leavelle Abram said gun violence victim, Amari Brown, was shot and killed two years ago.
The seven-year-old died on the Fourth of July. He was the unintended target in a gang shooting.
Abram's school sits in a dangerous area on the West Side and he said he’s already dealing with young gang members.
“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.”
Gathings-Harris’ play won't fix Chicago's violence, but she said it is one piece of the puzzle.
“The only way that we are going to win our streets back is everybody has to be a part,” said Gathings-Harris.
“My Soul Cries Out Stop” will be performed April 15th at the JLM Center. Tickets will cost $20 per person with a special discount for students.