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LOGAN SQUARE — Under gray skies Monday evening, people clutching candles, balloons and flowers started to fill up the street in front of 10-year-old Lena Nunez Anaya’s grandmother’s home, where Lena was killed by a stray bullet Saturday.

Within minutes, the street was full of people, some wiping away tears and others holding their children tight, but hardly anyone made a sound.

All eyes were fixated on Lena’s grief-stricken family and on the growing collection of bouquets, teddy bears, candles and photos in front of Lena’s grandmother’s home.

Monday evening’s vigil started with a prayer led by a local pastor. As a light drizzle began to fall, anti-violence leaders took turns expressing their utter disbelief a stray bullet ended the 10-year-old girl’s life.

“This has got me shooken up. We can no longer accept our children being murdered in our streets, our babies that didn’t have a chance to grow up,” said Robert Torres, president of the anti-gun violence group Parents for Peace and Justice. “We’re all hurting as a city and as a community.”

Many placed flowers and candles at the memorial.Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago

The fatal shooting happened about 9:40 p.m. Saturday.

Lena was watching TV with her brother at her grandmother’s house in the 3500 block of West Dickens Avenue when a bullet went through a window, hitting her in her head and killing her, according to family and police.

Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said the shooting stemmed from a gang conflict. Members of a gang were outside of the home when a rival gang member shot at them from almost a block away, aiming down an alley, Deenihan said. One of the bullets came flying through Lena’s grandmother’s home.

Lena was one of two children shot and killed over the weekend. Earlier Saturday, a 1-year-old baby boy was shot and killed in Englewood.

Lena Nunez Anaya, 10, was shot and killed in Logan Square Saturday night. GoFundMe

And just a week ago, a 3-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl were shot dead on the West Side. That same weekend saw three other children shot.

“Once again, it’s gang-on-gang violence,” Deenihan said during Monday’s press conference of Lena’s killing. “And the opposing gang, they know who did it. And at this point, we need the information, once again.”

No arrests had been made in the case as of Monday evening, said police spokeswoman Guadalupe Sanchez.

At Monday night’s vigil, anti-violence leaders and officials repeatedly called for justice for Lena’s family and urged anyone with information that could lead to an arrest to come forward.

“I pray that God will bring down justice on anyone that’s trying to cover this up,” a local pastor said. “And not just for this one; for all of the children who have been killed.”

A sign at Monday night’s vigil. [Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago]

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, whose 35th Ward includes the Lena’s grandmother’s home, started his remarks saying, “She’s just 10 years old, a little baby.” He repeated it for emphasis.

“We don’t know who was shooting at each other. We don’t know what stupid nonsense provoked them to start shooting each other. But we know that a stray bullet took her life. I want you to think about that, that a little 10-year-old girl lost her life because people decided they needed to escalate their conflict to one of armed violence,” Ramirez-Rosa said.

‘She Should Be Here With Us’

Throughout the vigil, Lena’s family sat facing the memorial, turning to embrace each other in anguish when remarks hit home.

Anti-violence leaders urged reporters not to take photos of Lena’s family at any point during the vigil out of respect. One of Lena’s family members briefly addressed the crowd in Spanish through tears.

At the end of the vigil, anti-violence leaders asked those holding balloons to release them in memory of Lena. Someone shouted, “Rest in peace, baby!” as people clapped and balloons drifted higher into the sky.

The releasing of the white balloons

— Mina Bloom (@mina_bloom_) June 30, 2020

Many stayed long after the releasing of the balloons to leave flowers and candles at the memorial and to express condolences to the family.

In between sorrowful hugs with friends and family members, Lena’s stepfather, Ulysses Ceballos, said the tragedy had yet to sink in.

“She should be here with us. This is so unfair. This is just unbelievable,” Ceballos said.

Ceballos, who helped raise Lena, described his stepdaughter as “such a sweet little girl” who was always brimming with positivity.

“She loved doing TikTok, she loved being in the pool. She loved to play with her younger siblings. She … always cared about other people,” he said.

“She had nothing but positive vibes coming out of her. That was her. She was just 10.”

Lena was on her way to becoming a fifth grader at Funston Elementary School in Logan Square. Ceballos said she loved school, especially reading and math.

“I’d write all of these [math] problems and she’d get excited to do all of this work. She’d say, ‘Can you make some more problems for me?'” Ceballos said.

Cousins of Lena, who declined to be named out of respect for the family, said the 10-year-old was “always smiling.”

One cousin said a “20-minute walk talking with [Lena] felt like five” because they’d have the “best conversations.”

“We talked about everything, talked about how life is, school. She loved school,” the cousin said.

Ceballos said he lost a part of himself when Lena died, and he’s still coping with the fact she won’t be there anymore when he wakes up to go to work each day.

“I just wish it was all a bad dream and she was still here with us,” he said. “She deserves justice. She did not deserve this.

“Such a great little soul she was.”

A fundraiser for Lena’s funeral is being held online.

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DC Police added to ACLU lawsuit alleging excessive force against protesters on June 1

A Falls Church, Virginia, man and his daughter say D.C.’s police were involved in the June 1 chemical-aided clearing of protesters Lafayette Square ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to St. John’s Episcopal Church.

The allegation is part of an amended lawsuit against the president, U.S. Attorney General William Barr and other White House officials filed by groups including the ACLU.

More than once, including on June 2, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham denied his officers were involved in supporting the action against protesters ahead of Trump’s walk through the square.

In a news release posted on July 8, the ACLU said information provided by Dustin Foley, and his daughter, was being added to the lawsuit.

Foley can be seen in a video compiled by a filmmaker who was recording the early days of the protests in D.C. prompted by the late May killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd.

The addition of Foley’s information contradicts Newsham.

Foley, according to the ACLU, can be seen trying to take shelter with his daughter away from the square, one block to the west on H Street NW near the intersection with 17th Street NW.

That’s when the pair are confronted by a line of officers in riot gear.

What the video shows, however, is a phalanx of officers in dark clothing with “POLICE” printed on their shields, it is not obvious which agency the officers represent.

WTOP’s reporting from the night of June 1 notes that D.C.’s Metropolitan Police was in the area of Lafayette Square to round up protesters who were on the streets after the District’s 7 p.m. curfew.

Local police also were involved in a standoff with a group of protesters in the neighborhood around Swann Street NW close to 16th Street NW throughout the night.

The protesters took shelter inside local homes to avoid being arrested for violating the curfew that night.

In the aftermath of the June 1 events, a number of agencies, including the U.S. Park Police and Secret Service denied using tear gas to push protesters out of the square.

After multiple reports from news organizations whose reporters were in the square during the protests, both the Park Police and the Secret Service admitted their officers had used chemical agents, such as pepper spray and pepper balls, along with smoke canisters, to clear the square.

At one point, a Park Police spokesman agreed there was only a small difference between pepper spray, which is derived from natural ingredients extracted from hot peppers and tear gas, which is a chemical.

D.C.’s police, however, maintained their disconnection from the events around the square just before the 7 p.m. curfew.

“Yesterday began with two separate groups at approximately 3 o’clock, one in Lafayette Square and the other in the vicinity of the U.S. Capitol. Both groups assembled peacefully at these locations,” Newsham said in a June 2 news conference.

“At around 6:30, the group at Lafayette Plaza was alerted by federal law enforcement officers, who gave warnings for them to disperse. I had received before that, just before that, that there would be a presidential movement in the area. The Metropolitan Police Department did not participate in that movement.”

The lawsuit identifies MPD officers as the group that launched pellets of some sort at Foley at his daughter. It is not clear from the video if the officers were shooting “tear gas” or “pepper balls.”

The lawsuit includes a play-by-play of what happened that evening, photos of tear gas canisters collected around the square and alleges that officers used “excessive force” to clear the square of protesters.

Foley said he and his daughter came to D.C. to pass out water and sandwiches to the protesters that afternoon.

After the addition to the lawsuit was promoted on July 8, Newsham and the D.C. Police once again denied their involvement in clearing protesters from the area on June 1.

“The Metropolitan Police Department was not involved in the unscheduled movement of the President from Lafayette Square to St. John’s church on June 1, 2020,” the agency said in a statement sent to DCist.

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