As a group of about 150 people stood in a circle surrounding a display in Loyola Park for 13-year-old Adam Toledo and others killed by police, the only sounds that could be heard were birds chirping above and kids playing in the distance.
Loyola students and community members gathered for the vigil at 6 p.m. April 18, just days after the release of body camera footage documenting the last moments of Adam’s life before he was fatally shot by a Chicago Police Department (CPD) officer in Little Village March 29.
Gabriela Groom, a Loyola sophomore who attended the vigil, said she has been engaged in calling for change through events organized by groups such as Black Lives Matter since the summer — but Adam’s death especially impacted her.
“This hit very close to home with him being both Hispanic and it happening in Chicago,” Groom, 20, said.
Attendees held small white candles, sharing lighters with one another. As the crowd stood silently, groups took turns quietly approaching the display, leaving flowers, lighting candles or writing messages on three poster boards positioned around a tree.
One board was dedicated to Adam, another to Daunte Wright, who was fatally shot by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minn. April 11, the Associated Press reported. The third had an image of Anthony Alvarez, who was shot and killed by a CPD officer in Portage Park March 31, Block Club Chicago reported.
Our Streets LUC — a student-led activist group calling for Loyola to better support Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) students — organized the event. The group is known for its loud calls for change, typically marching through the streets of Rogers Park or holding demonstrations on Loyola’s campus. But, during the April 18 event, participants stood silently — many with their heads down — as they mourned those killed by police.
“I kind of like the silence,” Chay Anderson, a Loyola senior who attended the vigil, said. “I feel it gives everyone adequate time to reflect on everything that’s going down as well as their perspective. Just seeing the diverse amount of people that are here is interesting to take in.”
Kai Offett, a first-year studying fine arts, said she found out about the event through Loyola’s Black Cultural Center — of which she’s a member. Offett said it felt good to see a lot of people show their support, but said the action people take when they leave the event is what’s more important.
“I feel often that when Black bodies are displayed, or people of color are displayed, I think that’s the only time we get media attention,” Offett, 18, said. “I think what makes change and dismantles systems is the work we do outside of showing up — it’s just one part, it’s just one step.”
Phoenix News Writer Grace Kalil contributed to the reporting of this article.