Monday, December 28, 2020

A West Side Woman Seeks To Stem The Tide of Violence

Louvenia Hood, executive director of Mother’s Opposed to Violence Everywhere. 

By Reyna Estrada 
One day, while riding the CTA bus with students after school, Louvenia Hood broke up a fight. A young boy had jumped onto a young girl. Louvenia Hood said she asked the boy why he had started the fight, and the boy had responded, “That's what my father did to my mother and it always made her be quiet.” 

Throughout her career of working to stop violence within schools, Hood had witnessed many other fights between children. She said she always looked to address the root causes. 

Hood is a North Lawndale resident and executive director of Mother’s Opposed to Violence Everywhere (MOVE), which she said has been fighting to bring safety to Chicago communities for 16 years. 

She said that MOVE started with efforts to address the root causes of violence in overlooked Chicago communities--starting within schools.“The reason we had to get safety in our community first is because the kids were afraid for their lives in high school-they were carrying knives to school,” Hood explained. “Kitchen knives were stuck underneath their sleeves and their coats and all down their pants legs.” 

In 2009, Hood said she worked within schools in an attempt to find ways to address the safety problem and that she found that the root of the violence was often a result of basic needs not being met. She said she learned that some of the children just needed somebody to talk to. 

“They would share things with me about what was going on in the household. Some of them, their parents were locked up in jail with drug addiction, or crimes they had committed.” 

“Some of their houses were without heat. Some were without hot water,” Hood added. “It was just a terrible situation for the students.” 

Over time,Hood said that she was able to gather support and attention for safety programs within these schools, with the help of other parents. Through her work with MOVE, she was able to implement a community watchers program around Marshall and Orr High Schools.

The Reverend Robin Hood (center)
In addition to working toward safety in education, MOVE has worked on various other causes, according to Reverend Robin Hood, Louvenia Hood’s husband and founder and lead organizer for MOVE.

“To create social change, you have to take the issues that the community brings to you --MOVE is a grassroot organization. We organize around what our members think is the most important thing,” Rev. Hood said 

One of the issues that MOVE has focused on is the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Chicago women. Louvenia Hood said they started to place an emphasis on the issue in 2016, and that many community members started to notice similar murders. 

“Parents were asking where their daughters were. Kids wanted to know where are their mothers--nobody had any answers,” she said. 

“Women were all killed on the West Side of Chicago, the South Side of Chicago. The killings were all similar, so we determined that there was a serial killer. And we determined there was more than one,”  Louvenia Hood added. 

Rev. Hood agrees. “It’s way more than 51 murders that have not been answered,” he said. “We forced a hearing with the state senate on DNA backlog, which we found out is one of the biggest problems of not solving any murders in Chicago.” 

MOVE has taken various actions to fight for justice for women who have gone missing in Chicago. Rev. Hood said that the organization has taken efforts to push for rapid DNA testing as well as the formation of a task force. 

While the FBI and CPD have teamed up to form this task force, Rev. Hood said that there is still much more work to be done, particularly with what he deems as empty rhetoric from public officials and a lack of attention on Black victims. 

“They figured if some women got killed, then it was their fault. It’s not only a CPD problem, it's a national problem. It's a nightmare,” said Rev. Hood. “Until it resonates in law enforcement that every Black woman and Brown girl’s life is just as important as a white woman and a white girl, then we’re always gonna have this issue in our community.”