This Halloween, like every Halloween for the past six years, youth organizers from GoodKids MadCity (GKMC) won’t be focused on celebrating like other young people. Instead, we’ll be working to make sure youth on the South Side have safe places to gather without violence or police harassment. 

This year, we’re partnering with Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP) and the City of Chicago to host an event at Hyde Park Academy High School. Our positive programming on Halloween—which we have held since 2018—has resulted in fewer arrests and less intercommunal and police violence and ensures that young people keep themselves out of trouble and have fun. After the Hyde Park Academy event, our organizers will be on the streets helping to diffuse tensions between young people and the police for the rest of the evening.  

Every community in Chicago needs youth-led peace and community-building initiatives. That’s why, for years, we’ve been working to pass the Peacebook Ordinance.

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The Peace Book ordinance is a violence prevention program made up of three components: Neighborhood Peace Commissions, Peacekeepers and a City-Wide Peace Commission. The ordinance creates youth-led Neighborhood Peace Commissions in communities most impacted by gun violence and police surveillance. 

These commissions would resource young people—or Peacekeepers—with the tools to engage in violence interruption and reduction, mediation and restorative strategies like peace negotiation. Further, it would allow the City to take these community-based solutions and scale them to city-wide policy through a City-Wide Peace Commission. The ordinance would also provide a directory of wraparound services and job opportunities that would reduce youth incarceration. Instead of criminalizing young people, the Peace Book invests in the expertise that youth have in redressing violence in their own communities and equips them with the resources necessary to successfully interrupt interpersonal violence. 

On Sept. 14, the Peace Book ordinance was reintroduced at City Hall with the sponsorship of Ald. Jessie Fuentes (26th Ward). We’d like to shout out the city council members who were amongst the first to pledge their support for the Peace Book, especially the co-sponsors of the ordinance—Fuentes, Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward) and Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd Ward)—who believed in this vision for investment in Chicago’s Black and brown youth from the start. 

On Oct. 19, Department of Family and Support Services Commissioner Brandie Knazze committed to earmarking funds to get Peace Book pilots up and running during the summer of 2024. This is good news, but it’s not enough to ensure every neighborhood benefits from the Peace Book.  

This Halloween season, we urge the rest of the city council members who have not yet pledged their support to educate themselves on the Peace Book and the positive impact it would have on Chicago’s most vulnerable communities. 

In the words of U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis, the sort of activities we do on Halloween—keeping youth out of trouble, protecting Black and brown communities by cop watching, and encouraging other kids to join our peacekeeping efforts—“is not only protected First Amendment activity but also beneficial to the community [when] communities can work collaboratively to create a situation that is more peaceful than it would have been and has a long-term, long-lasting effect on the stability and safety of the communities which will last a lot longer than just [Halloween].” 

To ensure our efforts on Halloween and beyond, permanently create safer and more 

just communities for our Black and brown youth, the city needs to step up and give youth the resources they need to serve the people.  

The city needs to pass the Peace Book ordinance. #PeaceBookNow

is a South Side-based youth-led community organization that focuses on reducing inter-communal violence and over-policing. The organization is committed to building unity and healing, to create thriving communities.