• After the killing of Dantrell Davis in 1992, CHA chairman Vincent Lane called for the national guard to help secure Cabrini-Green

This is the second of a five-part look at how the murder of a seven-year-old 20 years ago still reverberates nationwide. You can read the first installment here.

The shooting death of Dantrell Davis just didn’t seem like all the others. Even if gang violence had become way too common—Chicago was on its way to 943 murders in 1992, up 201 from just three years earlier—something was beyond messed up when a seven-year-old was shot down by a sniper on his way to school. To many it was a sign of wanton lawlessness, the collapse of social standards, the abandonment of poor children, and the power of gangs and drug rings that had replaced factories as the go-to employers of countless inner-city men.

Community leaders tried to channel their horror into action. Along with other clergy, Rev. Walter Johnson, pastor of Wayman AME Church in the middle of Cabrini-Green, organized escorts for kids going to and from school. School officials and area political leaders such as Jesse White worked to extend support services to parents. And street activists led by Wallace “Gator” Bradley, Maurice Perkins, and Hal Baskin got gang leaders together to discuss a truce, fearing that if they didn’t, a full war could erupt. It was bad enough that a little kid had been slain on his way to school. It was much worse that the kid happened to be the great nephew of Black Disciples leader Jerome “Shorty” Freeman.