No arrests have been made yet in the fatal shooting of Chantel Grant and Andrea Stoudemire, who were at their usual anti-violence gathering Friday night, a corner lot in Chicago, when they were hit in a drive-by shooting.
Grant, 25, and Stoudemire, 35, had dedicated the past two years to the anti-violence group Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings (MASK) to try to create a safer community for their children and others in the Englewood neighborhood.
Chicago police told reporters that at 10 p.m. Friday, an SUV drove past 75th Street and Stewart Avenue, where MASK meets every day. Shots were fired into the crowd. The police believe the gunfire may have been meant for a man affiliated with a street gang who had recently left prison and was shot in the arm Friday.
MASK founder Tamar Manasseh told the Chicago Sun-Times the incident was terrifying. “It is heartbreaking. I haven’t slept because I am trying to figure out how we can stop this,” she said. “Who’s next? I just keep thinking, ‘Who’s next?’”
“For mothers to be killed in a place where mothers go to seek safety and sisterhood, I take that as a personal threat.”
A GoFundMe page was established by MASK and had raised more than $22,000 of its $5000 goal to #StandAgainstFear and bring the shooter to justice. The money is to be offered as a reward to identify and arrest the killer.
“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 page says.
“They weren’t in gangs, associating with the wrong people, in the wrong place at the wrong time, or any of the other things they tell us so we blame the victims instead of the shooters who no one seems to be able to catch.”
The group was established in 2015, according to its website, as a way to “put eyes on the streets, interrupt violence and crime, and teach children to grow up as friends rather than enemies.”
People in MASK began to simply “hang out on the block, cook food, and emanate love,” the website says.
The corner where the group usually sets up shop was filled with flowers and messages in the week following the shooting, and the women of MASK, led by Manasseh, continued to advocate their cause and carry out MASK’s mission at their regular spot.
Just days before shooting, Manasseh had opened Peace of Pizza, a pizza parlor in the nearby suburb of Beverly, which will employ young people in a push to provide direction and prevent involvement with gang activities.
Despite the tragedy, Manasseh has officially opened Peace of Pizza, and she aims to funnel 25% of profits toward financing MASK initiatives in Englewood.