Family calls for police reform at Homan Square protests

Public demonstration: A family affair

February 28, 2015

John Paul Gonzalez and his two children hit the streets of West Chicago Saturday afternoon to participate in public protests at the Homan Square warehouse complex, a so-called ‘black site’ facility where Chicago police secretly detained and interrogated thousands of people without providing access to attorneys, according to an investigation published April 16, 2016 by The Guardian US.

Gonzalez says the police reform demonstration presented him with an opportunity to teach his children about the issues at hand and show them the value of community organizing.

Video shot & edited by Emily Gray Brosious
Music credit: “Stop” (blue mix) by Ghost Kollective/dig.ccMixter, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution

Family: Slain football coach Alexander Villafane kept kids off the street

By Emily Gray Brosious | Originally published at Homicide Watch Chicago | Feb. 17, 2015

Alexander Villafane named his youth football program after his second-favorite NFL team, the New England Patriots, family said.

The 39-year-old football coach did not get to see the Patriots win Super Bowl XLIXthis month because he was fatally shot in the head while working on a vehicle less than a week before the game, family said.

Villafane was replacing a stolen catalytic converter when he was wounded during a Jan. 25 drive-by shooting in the 3500 block of West 24th Street, family said.

Villafane, of the 2300 block of South St. Louis Avenue, died two days later at Mount Sinai Hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

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“I’m at a complete loss … I would never imagine, in a million years, out of all the things that could happen, something like this.” said Villafane’s stepdaughter, Jennessa Martinez.

She said her stepfather dedicated his life to keeping children on the football field and off the streets.

Villafane started the Humboldt Park football team with his brother about 10 years ago as a way to help at-risk youths, family said. He coached more than 300 children, many of whom went on to play high school or college football, Martinez said.

“It’s hard to see that the very thing he was fighting against was the thing that took his life,” she said.

Relatives described the father of four as a “family man” who was a “role model” to many.

“He just taught me so much as I grew up in life,” said Villafane’s godson Angel Del Valle. “He didn’t give up on me. He worked with me, he worked with many of the other kids that were on the bench to better themselves so they can become better people.”

The family believes Villafane’s shooting might have been a case mistaken identity.

Witnesses only told relatives that a gunman inside a passing minivan shot Villafane, the family said during a press conference calling for more police cameras in the area.

Nobody has been charged for the murder.

Family members are asking anyone with information about Alexander Villafane’s murder contact Area Central detectives.

Family: Slain Rayvon Little enjoyed basketball, reading

By Emily Gray Brosious | Originally published at Homicide Watch Chicago | Feb. 5, 2015

Rayvon Little left his Minnesota home as a teenager to come live with his grandmother in Englewood, family said.

Christine Little said her grandson was a quiet young man who often spent his time at home reading or watching Christian television with her.

Christine Little said she was close to her grandson, and when she recently encouraged him to go visit his family in Minnesota he requested she accompany him.

Rayvon Little, 20, never got the chance to return to Minnesota because he was fatally shot Nov. 1, 2014, in the 6700 block of South Morgan Street.

Authorities said Little was outside when somebody in a passing group opened fire. Little was shot multiple times and died about an hour later at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County. Another man, 19, was shot in the leg but survived.

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Rayvon Little, who attended a local alternative high school, enjoyed riding his bicycle through the neighborhood and playing basketball and football at local parks, his grandmother said.

At home, Rayvon Little would “read for hours” and wanted to become a teacher, his grandmother said.

Family friend Kendall Richardson said Rayvon Little wanted to earn his GEDbecause “he saw what was going on around in the streets.”

He wanted to better himself, but I guess it was too little too late,” said Richardson, who added “it can happen to anybody [in this neighborhood]”.

Christine Little said her grandson was out when the gunfire erupted, but she never thought it was him who was shot.

Immediately after the shooting, Christine Little said she went to the front windows, but she was unable to get a good look because the windows were being replaced and were covered with plastic.

I didn’t think it was my baby,” Christine Little said. “I went to the window and peeped underneath [the plastic] and saw a guy running.”

Christine Little said nobody knocked on her door to tell her it was her grandson who was killed until after police left.

I was shocked that this happened, especially with him,” Davis said. “He was so quiet and low key. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to do something that terrible to him.”

Nobody has been charged for the murder. Area South detectives are investigating.