'Increase the Peace': Chicagoans camping out in Back of the Yards to take community back

FOX 32 NEWS - Striking out violence by camping out: drastic measures are being taken by communities fed up with gunfire.

“We can all make peace. We just have to get people together,” said Yesenia Luna.

When Luna steps out of her house each day, she experiences something different than most kids her age. At just 16 years old, the teenager says she doesn't always feel comfortable leaving -- with reason why.

Last May, her close friend 14-year-old Leonardo Betancourt was in a car with family when he was shot in the back and died.

“It really sucks. It’s like you got a piece of your heart taken,” Luna said.

Banging drums and chanting messages of peace along with dozens of other Southside teenagers, Luna participated in a march returning to the St. Joseph’s Church.

They'll be spending the night in the Back of the Yards neighborhood playing games and listening to music after being addressed by speakers, including Cook County commissioner "Chuy" Garcia.

All of it is organized by kids with the help of the "Resurrection Project,” and coming days after a 4th of July weekend that saw more than 100 shot and 15 killed across Chicago.

“It says that they're fed up and they realize that this reality is not sustainable, that it's not natural,” Garcia said.

“We’re providing with leadership training, helping them learn how to organize in their communities,” said Jose Munoz of the Resurrection Project. “Their belief is that if kids can do it, they can drive adults to do it too.”

And that's what they'll be doing each of the next seven Friday nights, spending time in so-called "hot zones" -- places where they say their message is needed most.

Next Friday they will be at new life church in Little Village where they will be staying overnight and working with residents in that community.