Community pays tribute to young activist shot dead in West Pullman
Family and friends gathered on Friday to remember murdered anti-violence activist LaNiyah Murphy and demand that more be done to locate her killer.
âShe has dedicated her life and time to not being afraid to tell others about her journey and the importance of ending gun violence,â said Murphy’s aunt Danita Huff. “She inspired a lot of other girls to do the same.”
Huff joined dozens of people at St. Sabina’s Arch, 7800 S. Racine Ave., where they also released balloons in honor of Murphy.
Murphy, who was shot and killed in West Pullman on Tuesday, has been recalled as a beautiful, intelligent young woman – and someone who was once a victim, surviving a gunshot wound to the head in 2018.
Huff said Murphy wanted everyone to imagine that building a safer community was possible.
Murphy’s former composition teacher Monica Connor said Murphy was “easily the smartest person in the room” and excelled in his studies. She was also âreally kind and supportiveâ.
Murphy, 20, was a freshman majoring in sociology at Governors State University and involved in the university’s Social Justice Initiative. Her activism was also manifested in her involvement in Sainte-Sabine’s anti-violence leadership group, BRAVE, where she mentored others.
There were no arrests in Murphy’s case. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department confirmed no one was in custody, but said detectives were continuing their investigation.
The lack of arrest frustrated some.
Pam Bosley, who oversees the BRAVE youth program, appealed to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Superintendent CPD. David Brown to set up a task force to find Murphy’s killer.
“Please treat the LaNiyah shooting the same way you treated the Hyde Park shootings and the downtown shootings,” Bosley said.
A friend of Murphy’s and fellow leader of BRAVE, Teyonna Lofton, described Murphy as being strong – especially right after Lofton herself was also shot.
âShe spoke to me through it,â Lofton said. âShe drove me to the hospital. LaNiyah was there to keep the pressure on my arm.
But Lofton also had a message for political leaders on Friday.
âThis isn’t the first time LaNiyah has been going through this,â Lofton said, his voice high with passion. âAlderman, you disappointed her. Mayor, you betrayed her. Governor, you disappointed her. Police, you betrayed her. How many of us have to die, how many of us have to get shot before you get up and make a change? “
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There were 820 homicides in Chicago in 2021, according to data from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
This makes it the deadliest year since the mid-1990s. Just seven days after the start of the new year, 11 people were reportedly killed in Chicago.
Our babies are dying, âConnor said, his voice shaking. âBlacks are dying. And in many cases, we are the ones who kill us.
Reverend Michael Pfleger addressed the community directly on Friday, calling on young people to take action.
âWe need you more than ever to be the leaders of our society,â he said. âThe adults have disappointed you. “
Then he spoke directly to the killer: âThis is not a video game. It is not a social network. What you are doing is murder. You take lives, you traumatize families. You are destroying our future. Stop.”
Cheyanne M. Daniels is a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a non-profit journalism program that aims to strengthen newspaper coverage in communities on the south and west sides.