#1MExperiments



A Virtual Zine Project
c/o Project Nia & Interrupting Criminalization

Explore snapshots of community-based safety strategies that expand our ideas about what keeps us safe.

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Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings


Location: Chicago, IL

Organization: Mothers and Men Against Senseless Killings

Contact: info@ontheblock.org

MASK was established in 2015 as a way to put eyes on the streets, interrupt violence and crime, and teach children to grow up as friends rather than enemies. A group of caring individuals in the community began to simply hang out on the block, cook food, and emanate love.

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Mothers and Men Against Senseless Killings (MASK) was established in 2015 on the South Side of Chicago. Founder Tamar Manasseh describes MASK as a way to “put eyes on the streets, interrupt violence and crime, and teach children to grow up as friends rather than enemies.” How do they do it? “A group of caring individuals in the community began to simply hang out on the block, cook food, and emanate love.”

In June of 2015, Manasseh posted up on a lawn chair at the Englewood corner where three women had recently been shot, one fatally, breaking up a fight. With a dozen women armed only with hot pink t-shirts reading “Moms on Patrol,” she set out a grill and began feeding and chatting with all the people who came through. In a lot of ways, she hasn’t left that corner since.

Three years later, Manasseh penned an op-ed describing MASK’s work:

“Every single day in the summer, especially on weekends, we sit in lawn chairs on the corner of 75th Street and South Stewart Avenue in Englewood, one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods. Each day, volunteers cook dinner for 75 or so neighborhood kids, who range from infants to teenagers.

These children are now my children, too. For the past three years, the volunteers in an organization I founded, Mothers Against Senseless Killings, have made it our mission to give them their childhoods back — the kind of carefree childhoods so many people in our generation had but too many children in poor neighborhoods are denied.

What we do is simple. We sit on the corners and watch over the children in the neighborhood. My two children always behaved better when an adult had eyes on them. So I thought this would work for the other kids here, too.

This is not exactly an avant-garde idea. I learned it from my mom, who learned it from hers, and so on, back until what I would imagine was the dawn of time. This has always been the role of the black mother in the community. We watch the kids. All of them. This is that “village” that we hear so much about but that has somehow been forgotten. All I’ve done is try to revive its spirit.” 

Excerpted From: We Are Reclaiming Chicago One Corner at a Time, Tamar Manasseh, NYT, Oct. 22, 2017