Community leaders vow to carry on work of slain activist Caleb Reed, and will press his high school to remove Chicago cops

Community leaders gathered outside Mather High School on Tuesday afternoon to remember slain activist Caleb Reed and make a promise: that the work of the 17-year-old will not be in vain.

They called on people to turn out when the local council at Mather, where Reed was a student, meets next week to decide whether to remove police officers from the West Rogers Park school.

In the weeks before he was shot to death, Reed had called for money spent on school policing to be diverted to mental health and other services for students.

“If you were about what Caleb was about, and you believe what he was fighting for, you should be at the LSC meeting and you should make sure that they know that we don’t want to see any more police officers in those schools,” Ald. Andre Vasquez, 40th, said.

Another alderman, Roderick Sawyer, 6th, said he had worked closely with Reed and other members of Voices of Youth in Chicago Education on trying to end the $33 million contract between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Police Department.

Sawyer said it was Reed’s own story of being detained for not having an ID at a school basketball game that motivated him to join VOYCE in their fight.

“He was the driving force that convinced me that this was the right thing to do,” Sawyer said. “And he’ll forever be ingrained in my mind as someone that I look up to.

“This young man — he spoke his truth,” the alderman added. “He was adamant, he was consistent and he wasn’t going to give up.”

Fellow youth leaders said Reed was determined to provide Black and brown children with more mental health resources and saw the reallocation of funds spent on school officers as a necessary first step.

From a young age, Reed saw the lack of health and social services as root causes of violence in his community, according to his peers.

“The taking of Caleb’s life, and others killed, is senseless and preventable,” said state Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago. “If we’d only listened to Caleb and pushed to help people hurting in this city.”

Reed was found on a sidewalk last Friday afternoon in the 1900 block of West Granville Avenue with a gunshot wound to the head, police said. He died Sunday morning. Police have announced no arrests.

Family members and friends fought through tears as they spoke about the impact Reed had in their lives.

Darianna Ford, a student at Mather and a member of VOYCE, was Reed’s girlfriend for the past three years.

“He was too kind for this world, too nice, too caring,” Ford said. “When I graduate, I’m going to make sure I do it for him. Because we couldn’t wait to walk that stage, we couldn’t wait.”

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