On July 26, 2019, two mothers, Chantel Grant, 25, and Andrea Stoudemire, 35, were shot to death in their south side Chicago neighborhood. The two ladies were walking to a grocery store around 10 pm, just around the corner from where they usually stand watch with Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK). Despite two of their own being killed by the very thing they are mobilized to prevent, the group of mothers is undeterred and refusing to give in to fear.
“Spraying bullets on indefensible women is total cowardice,” MASK member Maria Pike told the Chicago Tribune. “They are a bunch of cowards. They have to be caught as soon as possible,” she emphasized.
What Is Mothers Against Senseless Killings?
MASK was founded in 2015 after a mother was shot and killed in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. MASK founder Tamar Manasseh mobilized a group of women to camp out on the busy corner of Stewart Avenue and 75th Street as a way to stand watch over the neighborhood, which is notorious for shootings and crime. In addition to preventing violence, the group hoped to address a root cause of the violence by creating a safe space for their children to eat, play and grow up together, thereby reducing the risk of them joining rival gangs in the future.
Every summer day since 2015, the group has come together to cook food and let their children play. The moms are often seen wearing pink t-shirts which say “Moms on Patrol.” Grant and Stoudemire were a part of this tight-knit group. At a press conference, Manasseh said she was used to seeing Grant and her four children regularly. “Every day Chantell brought her kids here. Every day.” Stoudemire is also survived by four children. Manasseh described her as a protective person who “mothered other mothers.”
Manasseh says she has gotten little sleep since the shooting occurred last week. “For mothers to be killed in a place where mothers go to seek safety and sisterhood, I take that as a personal threat,” she said on Sunday at a news conference. “Because when you come for one of us, you better believe they came for all of us.”
Despite Manasseh’s belief that the mothers were targeted, police assigned to the case have found no motive or arrested anyone. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the intended target of the shooting was a man who is affiliated with a gang and recently got out of prison. The man, 58, was shot in the arm and is not cooperating with police. Grant and Stoudemire were both shot multiple times in the chest. They both died at the hospital.
MASK Isn’t Going Anywhere
MASK has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a $5,000 reward for information to help in the case. “No ones [sic] gonna save us. We must do it ourselves to make a difference,” the page explains. So far, the page has raised almost $30,000 in the three days it’s been active.
The description of the fundraiser makes it clear the group has no intention of retreating from Englewood. “At this point, I don’t know if I’m more afraid for my life or what we are giving the children, our block and the entire community over to if our fear convinces us to leave our corner, abandon our mission, our school, and our people. Therefore, WE AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE,” the page declares.
In addition to creating a safe space in Englewood, Manasseh has taken up another endeavor. She recently opened up a pizza restaurant to raise funds for the social work she’s trying to accomplish in Englewood. Peace of Pizza is located in the neighboring Beverly area. Profits from the restaurant will go to fund a school MASK is working to open in Englewood later this year.
Just a few short days after her friends were murdered, Manasseh showed up to the grand opening of Peace of Pizza. Speaking to Block Club Chicago, Manasseh said, “This tragedy really tested our mettle and made us show what we really were made of, and today we get to put something into the community.”