Khalil Denny wanted to watch a friendly ball game at Washington Park, his mother said.

But around 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 13, an altercation between two groups near a baseball field turned into a shootout, killing Danny, 19, and Lionel Coward, 43, and wounding eight others.

“He was watching the softball game, he wasn’t playing. I don’t know why the shots rang out,” said his mother, Lynette Denney. “Whatever is going on I guess our young people are not safe here in Chicago.”

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Now, Acclivus Inc. Activists with , an anti-violence group that organizes friendly softball leagues between neighborhoods, say they are being falsely accused of the shooting and are not allowed to hold any more games.

The group held a balloon release Wednesday for the victims of the mass shooting in Washington Park and called on the Chicago Park District to reinstate its permits for future games.

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“The shooting had absolutely nothing to do with this baseball game,” Gwen Baxter, a trauma response specialist at Eclios, told reporters. “No one at the game, no players, no spectators, no cooks, no one serving food, no one had anything to do with this unfortunate incident.”

Acclivus Inc. Activists release balloons in memory of the victims of a September 13 mass shooting in Washington Park that left two dead and eight injured.

Emmanuel Camarillo/OlxPraca.

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“Shame on the Chicago Park District for taking the permit,” Baxter said. “They want to hold Acclivus accountable for what happened, but you can’t hold us accountable. It’s been a good thing that’s been going on, bringing people together, bringing communities together.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said last week that the shooting was unrelated to the game and may have stemmed from a “personal conflict with gang affiliations.”

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State Rep. Kam Buckner, a mayoral candidate, said Wednesday that the shooting should lead to more investment in violence prevention.

“We have to put dollars into the violence epidemic in this city the same way we put dollars into COVID-19. That needs to happen, and if we don’t release the funds, we’re going to keep releasing balloons,” Buckner said.

Torrance Cooks, who organizes games for Eclios, said the group has held games at other parks this summer without incident. He said that the purpose of the games is to bring the youth away from the streets.

“We’re getting people hanging in parks instead of just hanging on corners,” Cooks said.

That’s what Khalil Denny was trying to do. His mother said he was playing with his friends, enjoying their company.

Lynette Denny, 49, said Khalil was a “sneakerhead” who loved to shop and was excited to celebrate his birthday this Friday. She recently bought a new bottle of Dior brand cologne for the occasion.

“He was a fun and loving person,” she said.

Lynette Denny credits Warrior Moms and Heal Your Heart for helping her get through such a traumatic experience.

“I told everyone I was in the ICU, I was in critical condition, now I’m in stable condition.”

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