Dozens of crosses line sidewalks near the MLK Commons. Each is adorned by a red heart, and the victim’s name and age.
A number on each cross represents a murder in Chicago this year.
Greg Zanis, a carpenter from Aurora, says he plans to build a cross for each victim. He takes them to different locations, like Englewood in Chicago.
For NIU students like Matthew Moore, the collection is eye-opening. He says the community needs to work together to stop the line of crosses from growing longer.
“The gravestones and the uncomfortable subject of death - people don’t want to think about it or acknowledge it. If it doesn’t affect them personally, then shunt it off to the side," he said. "But I mean, these could have very well been anybody standing here at this university. We just happen to not have been in the neighborhood when this happened.”
NIU employee Jeffrey Chandler says the crosses are a good thing to have on campus.
“Perhaps it will bring attention to plight of people, not only in Chicago, but in all the major cities, where you have economic troubles, and where people don’t have good jobs," he said.
Zanis will be on campus Friday for an afternoon vigil near the MLK Commons.
- Public Radio 101 graduate Ross Beach contributed to this report.