Chicago Man Sparks Anti-Violence Social Media Campaign

500campaign designed to motivate people to spread anti-violence message

By Marcus Riley
|  Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013  |  Updated 12:38 PM EDT
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Mayor: Baby's Shooting Death 'Despicable'

instagram.com/500campaign

Photos are pouring in to the 500campaign.

Photos and Videos

Reaction to 6-Month-Old Girl's Shooting Death

Pastor Corey Brooks and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy react to Jonylah Watkins' death. The girl was shot five times while her father changed her diaper in their minivan.

Mayor: Baby's Shooting Death 'Despicable'

In response to the death of a 6-month-old who was shot five times Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the fatal shooting was "a senseless, despicable act of violence."
More Photos and Videos

After the murder totals in Chicago started racking up after January of this year, South Side native Bryant Cross decided he'd seen enough.

The 28-year-old speech communications professor started thinking of effective ways to spread an anti-violence message and came up with the 500campaign, head shots of Chicagoans with the slogan "Angry Because Over 500 Youth Were Murdered in Chicago."

"I came across a picture of myself looking sad and that's what started it," Cross says. "I posted it on Instagram and Facebook with the text, and next thing I know, 20 people emailed me asking to do it for them."

He's had fairly steady requests over the past couple of weeks, but when 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins was fatally shot on Monday, the requests started coming in fast and furious.

He's edited hundreds of photos for his followers, who in turn are spreading the message on their own social media networks.

"There's a depression out here, people are wondering what they can do," Cross said. "I wanted to get people worked up so they at least feel like there's something they can do to address the violence."

Cross would like to harness the group energy into creating an anti-violence rally in downtown Chicago this summer.

"It's time to boost the morale of the city," Cross says. Whenever people outside of Chicago think of our city, they think of sports and violence. I want to see a day with no shootings and no killings ... a day of peace."

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