Things That Matter

Two Mothers Fighting To Get Rid Of Gun Violence Were Shot And Killed In Their Own Chicago Neighborhood

Chantell Grant and Andrea Stoudemire spent Friday, July 26 on the corner of 75th Street and Stewart Avenue in Chicago’s South Side, where the women, joined by their children, handed out food to other mothers, talked with youth about violence and kept an eye out on neighborhood children playing in the area. Members of Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK), an anti-violence group, the women spent many days in the park helping their community. 

But on this evening, the moms were shot and killed on the very corner they long tried to make safer.

The two women, who had finished up for the day and were walking to a store to get food for their families, were shot on a sidewalk around 10 p.m. 

Witnesses say a blue SUV drove up to the mothers and fired several shots. Grant, 26, and Stoudemire, 36, were hit several times in the chest and died at a nearby hospital. There is an ongoing investigation, but Chicago law enforcement have not yet arrested anyone.

“We have no evidence that we can point to that suggests the women were the intended targets,” police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement, according to BuzzFeed News. “We also have no evidence to the contrary.”

In a later statement, Guglielmi added that the shots were meant for a man who is associated with a local street gang and recently got out of prison. However, the unidentified 58-year-old man, who was hit in the arm in the shooting, is not cooperating with police.

Still, Tamar Manasseh, who founded MASK in 2015, said she’s not willing to accept that Grant, a mother of four, and Stoudemire, who had three children, were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“They killed mothers on a corner where mothers sit every day,” Manasseh said during a press conference Sunday. “You don’t have mothers killed in a place that is sacred to mothers and not take that as a message.”

According to the MASK website, the group formed “as a way to put eyes on the streets, interrupt violence and crime, and teach children to grow up as friends rather than enemies.” Together, the moms work to build stronger communities by focusing on violence prevention, food insecurity and housing. They also ensure community members have access to city services, opportunities for education and professional skills growth, and economic development.

A few years ago, volunteers also helped clean up a “dirty and filthy” site at the Englewood intersection and turned it into a space where kids could play safely daily. There, the children have supervision and activities, like learning to dance and eating dinner together, that teach them how to be productive members of society.

The site, she continued, was created to be a space where mothers could watch over their kids and ensure the safety and betterment of their lives.

“Chantell,” whose fourth and youngest child just turned 1 year old, “was one of those mothers,” Manasseh said. “She was a dedicated mother. Every day, Chantell brought her kids here. Every day. By now, I should have seen Chantell at least three or four times at this point of the day. I will never see her again.” 

Manasseh shared that Stoudemire wasn’t just a concerned mom but also a leader who helped everyone. 

“I will never see Andrea again,” she said. “Andrea was a mother’s mother. She mothered other mothers.”

Manasseh, who called the deaths “terrifying” and “heartbreaking,” says she has not slept much because she has been thinking about what more she and her group can do to stamp out violence in their community. 

More people are fatally shot in Chicago than in any other city in the US. During the weekend in which the two women died, 48 other people were shot in the city. Nine of them were killed, including a three-year-old child, reports CBS Chicago

Though homicides have decreased in the city in recent years and will likely continue to drop again this year, police statistics show there have been 281 in 2019 as of July 28.

 Manasseh stresses these numbers are unacceptable.

“For mothers to be killed in a place where mothers go to seek safety and sisterhood, I take that as a personal threat,” she said. “Because when you come for one of us, you better believe they came for all of us.”

The group has started a GoFundMe campaign aiming to raise $5,000 for a reward for information in the case. By Friday morning, it had raised more than $29,000.

“The murder of a woman brought us to our corner on 75th & Stewart so there’s no way we’re going to let the murder of more moms drive us away,” the fundraising page says. “We deserve to live without fear and the young women, Chantel Grant and Andrea Stoudemire who were torn from their children families tonight, deserve justice.”

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