The Lasting Impact Emanuel Gallegos Left on the City
By Adrian Garces
Northside is not the only community mourning the loss of a beloved member, but the city of Chicago is as well. Emanuel Gallegos was shot near Schurz High School on Addison and Kostner on Monday, Feb. 25. He was rushed to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center where he passed away later that night.
Gallegos’ death was comparable to losing a brother or a son. An outpouring of grief was seen throughout the city as many news outlets, including The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, ABC7Chicago, Univision, CBS Chicago, and many more, reported his death.
His community -- close companions and strangers alike -- felt the direct impact of his passing. Gallegos’ close friends reflected upon his life and their relationships with him. Childhood friends who attended his old elementary school, West Belden, such as Mia Ramos, Adv. 000, Jaredth Hernandez, Adv. 004, and Aiko Castrejon, Adv. 008, shared their favorite memories of him. “When Mia, Emanuel, and I found out we were going to Northside together, we were so excited to spend another four years together,” said Hernandez. “We were planning carpools and hanging out after school. In our morning carpools, we would listen to the radio and when ‘This Is What You Came For’ would come on, Mia and I would start singing and Emanuel would never want to join. Every time the song came on, we would try to get him to sing or dance along with us. Sometimes instead of listening to us sing, he would put in his headphones and play all kinds of Mexican music on full volume and sing along.” Castrejon said, “Sophomore year, I used to live close to Emanuel. When he’d go home straight after school, he’d be carrying his daily dose of chips and blasting his Mexican music as he asked me about my day. Also, I remember nights where I’d hop on my PlayStation to play Call of Duty with him along with our other middle school classmates as he’d share his humorous side with us.”
Ms. Jaclyn Woodruff, Math department, who was Gallegos’ advisory teacher, also talked about the three years she spent with him. “I never saw Emanuel when I was supposed to. He was in my advisory and I never got to teach him in an actual math course, but like 8:00 would strike and he and Angelo would be like, ‘Can we go get breakfast?’ I never saw him as much as I should have during advisory, but how can I tell him no, right? Even though I know he’s been here since 7:15 and totally could’ve gotten breakfast. But then last year he would come to visit me in class, and drop by in my class and say, ‘Oh hey Ms. Woodruff, I just wanted to come and say Hi.’ I would say, ‘It’s block 5! I know you have somewhere else to be.’ But it was hard to say go to class because I wanted him to stay and chat.”
Aside from a small vigil that was held on Feb. 28 on Addison and Kostner, his wake on Mar. 1 at Elms Funeral Home was massive. A line of people hoping to see Gallegos one more time led all the way into the street throughout the five hours that the visitation was open. Teachers and students from both West Belden and Northside, as well as people who had never met him personally, came to pay their respects. Steve Jaimes, Adv. 911, said, “I couldn’t believe it, I was there from 4-9pm and the number of people that kept coming in and out was unbelievable. I have never witnessed so much support in one place; there was never a time that the line stopped. I have never seen someone have such a huge effect on the overall community and you could see the huge impact he had on everyone just by his personality.”
At Northside on Monday, Mar. 4, a larger vigil was held to encapsulate everything Gallegos was. Ms. Katie Matthews, Counseling department, read out loud what would have been his letter of recommendation: “Loyal; Champion sweatshirt; energetic; resilient; role model; true friend; crazy tall; goofy; family first; pico de gallo; really...too tall; kind; saxophone; lover of music; positive multi-generational change agent; New York Yankees; selfless; easy-going; amazing work ethic; and Mexican proud. These are just a few words and phrases that come to mind when I think of Emanuel ‘Manny’ Gallegos...I know it’s not fair - I just described for you an amazing addition to your community, but you can’t have him. You see, we lost him on February 25, 2019, and I have never felt such emptiness in our school. Francis Bacon said, ‘In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.’”
Gallegos’ close friends and faculty purchased and signed a black Champion sweater and New York Yankees hat that was given to his family as a memory of him and what he meant to the Northside community. The Mexican band, Los Aliados de Chicago, performed some of Gallegos’ favorite Mexican music in the gym and then later outside -- the same songs that he blasted in his headphones wherever he went. Roses and candles were placed in the shape of a heart to represent a spot at Northside for Gallegos. The vigil attracted people from all over Chicago who felt the loss of Gallegos and the turn out of support was incredible. Furthermore, West Belden Elementary school will be renaming their gym after him in the upcoming months as a testimony to just how important he was to them.
Emanuel Gallegos was a brother to all who knew him. He will never be forgotten and his loss is felt heavily -- not only by Northside, not only by West Belden, and not only by Belmont Cragin -- by all of Chicago.