April , 2019

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Pfleger, “We can do this.”Mayor, “These are our streets

By Chinta Sltrausberg

More than 1700 people including a youth flash mob for peace attended Saint Sabina’s end-of-the-school year peace march late Friday night where Father Michael L. Pfleger, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife, Amy, elected officials and 12-year-old child prodigy Mae Ya Carter Ryan who demanded peace prevail this summer.

“Every child in the city of Chicago, deserves a childhood,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Too many children are growing up with the familiarity of gunshots and not the familiarity of laughter and hope. This is our day. These are our streets….” “No mother or father should ever have to have the name of their children read….”  Emanuel said there should one city and that it does not belong to the gangbangers.

After Sam Williams, the choir director for Saint Sabina, led a myriad of songs sang by the youth, Ronnie Moseley, who along with WGCI’s Tony Sculfield, was the MC for part of the rally, said, “We’re here on a mission. We’re here today because we want to protect Chicago….We know it’s our faith that gives us the strength to fight this fight.” He introduced Rev. Jeremiah Wright, retired pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, gave the opening prayer.

Earlier, Saint Sabina officials had given out 600 peace T-shirts and the Saint Sabina ARK distributed 400; however, hundreds of people came who had no T-shirts on. Pfleger thanked them for coming.

“Our gathering here tonight is not just another rally, but it’s a call of empowerment to the whole community,” said Pfleger. “During this past school year, there were community watchers who were paid to watch our children go back and forth to school, but this summer I am calling for the whole neighborhood to be unpaid community watchers for the children this summer. Are you willing to be the community watchers”? he asked them.

Saying he is aware that they need jobs, good education, economic development, positive opportunities and good police strategies, Pfleger said, “What we also need is empowered communities, a community where parents, neighbors and community organizations and faith communities decide not in my house, not on my block, not in my community, not on my watch.”

Father Pfleger said they are there to take responsibility “for our homes, our blocks and our neighborhoods and saying not one more. We love our young men and our young women…. I love you. You are my son. You are my daughter. I will fight for you, but I will not tolerate shooting and killing in our communities. There cannot be shooting and killing in our communities.”

Referring to the mayor’s May23rd faith block citywide parties where there were no shootings or killings in a 42-hour span, Father Pfleger said, “If we do it once, we can do it every day but the responsibility is up to us…. That is what this is about tonight…. It’s about parents, neighbors, faith communities, organizations and businesses being and accepting empowerment. It’s about taking authority and demanding peace and accepting responsibility for our community. Not one more.We can…we will do it…. This is our time. We will do it. Peace in Chicago,” he bellowed.

Phil McGhee, 26, was stayed in the streets but the Saint Sabina peacemakers talked him into joining the anti-violence program. Agreeing, McGhee said, “I’m going to stick with the program. It’s benefiting me. I got some money in my pocket…. It’s nice. I said forget that. I ain’t going back. After getting his Commercial Drivers License(CDL), today McGhee said he is now driving a mega bus.

To pay tribute to the 121 children who reportedly lost their lives this school year due to fun violence, Pam and Tommie Bosley, Marshall Lee and Antoinette Marsh Vince read the names of the deceased children. All of them had lost a child to gun violence.

Mae Va Carter Ryan , who sounds like Mahalia Jackson, played the piano and sang several songs including one she wrote entitled, “Travesty” a song about the violence.

Congressman Robin Kelly (D-2nd)urged people to write to all legislators. Andrea Zopp, president of the ChicagoUrban League, told of a 14-year-old girl accused of murdering another14-year-old girl. She stood alone in court. “Our children can never standalone. We have to stand with them. We will fight for them…because we love them.”

At 8:11 p.m., two police cars led the march with Pfleger saying, “This is God’s territory.” Chanting, “Put down the guns, stop the shooting, no more shooting, no more guns, they snaked down a number of streets calling for peace in the community.

Interviewed while marching, CTA Chairman Terry Peterson called the march “absolutely awesome to have the opportunity to tell our community that we’d better come out. We have to be the eyes and the ears of our community. We got to support the police. We got to say no more shooting, no more guns, no more killing our young children in our community. It’s up to us to save us and we got to come out and get involved.”

Stopping the march at 79thand Loomis, the sitet of several fatal shootings, Father Pfleger said, “We are going to take a stand right here.” Just then the marchers stepped back to make room for a youth flash mob that suddenly appeared dancing in unison to a peace song.

When Father Pfleger saw an elderly woman standing in her doorway watching as they passed by, he ran and hugged her. She told him she had lost two children to gun violence. Her story brought tears to Peterson’s eyes who watched the emotional moment.

Arriving at 79thand Marshfield, Father Pfleger bellowed, “Peace, peace. We speak to the ward peace…,” he said calling out the names of several other gangs whose territory they had entered. “You are our sons and daughters. We love you, and we want peace….What do we want”? He asked with the crowd chanting “peace.” “When do we want it”? They answered, “Now.” “Whose neighborhood is this”? The crowd yelled back, “Ours.”

Again professing his love for all of the gangbangers, Pfleger said, “But this is a time for peace. No more shooting. No more killing. We will love you. We will fight for you, but we will not tolerate shooting and killing. This is our community. Peace, peace….”

Inspirational songs like Peace is what I pray for,” filled the atmosphere as the marchers turned down 80th Street. The men yelled out, “Put down the guns. Stop the violence. In our neighborhood, no more shooting.”

Another song, “I Need You to Survive,” blared from the SUV as it twined down gang streets.

Arriving at the church around 9:30 p.m. flanked with supporters, Pfleger thanked the hundreds who finished the march like Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-16th), Terry Peterson, chairman of the CTA, Chicago Bulls, Craig Hodges, NBA retired basketball star, Cong. Kelly, Senator Collins, Andrea  Zopp, president of the Chicago Urban League, Phil Jackson, president Black Star, Officer Richard Wooten, Ald.Latasha Thomas (17th), Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, Rhymefest, spokenword artist Melody L. Brown and others for attending the march.

“We can do this. We really can do this. You got to know we can do this. All the enemy wants us to do is tog et overwhelmed, quit and give up. We are able to do this,” Pfleger said. “i Igot this,” he asked each to say. “Our children need to know that we are going to make it safe for them,” Pfleger said. “You got to know, our children got to know that we got them. In your house, your block…you don’t have to change the city. Change your block…your house and it will be a ripple effect.

“In 911, 19 people convicted in what they believed, even though it was evil, shut the world down,” Pfleger said. “There is a hell of a lot more than 19 out there now. We can shut the violence down. We can shut racism down. We can shut bad schools down. We can shut down evil in our society and poverty in our society,” he said then saying a prayer.

“We pray that everyone here will have a divine tension in them to allow them not to be satisfied until there is no more violence, until every child feels safe to go in and out oft heir house to go to the park and play and to sit on their front porch. We will not stop, God, until that day is a reality for every child,” prayed Pfleger.

Screaming, “Be safe,” at the end of the march and as he stood on the church stairs, Father Pfleger bellowed,“Take back your neighborhoods.”

Reaction to the march was positive. Kelley Hardy, said the march “was for a good cause. Hopefully they will get the message.” Rev. Jedidiah Brown, pastor of the Chosen Generation Church, called the march “phenomenal” praising  Pfleger for being “definitely continuing to bring the city together on all sides, andt here are so many young people out here. It’s a lot of productivity going on. Our young people are out there full force. This is amazing.”

When asked if there will be a hot summer given the past history of Chicago and its violence, Rev. Brown said, “I think that Chicago’s consciousness is getting it. We’re getting it and understanding that everybody has to be a part of the solution.  The mayor’s calling it. The clergy…the businesses…the citizens are calling it…. I will speak in faith. I think it’s going to be a great summer.”

More than 1700 people including a youth flash mob for peace attended Saint Sabina’s end-of-the-school year peace march late Friday night where Father Michael L. Pfleger, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife, Amy, elected officials and 12-year-old child prodigy Mae Ya Carter Ryan who demanded peace prevail this summer.  Father Pfleger said if the city can have zero shooting and killing one day, it can do it again.  (All photos by Chinta Strausberg)

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