Unprecedented Outpouring of Rage from Chicago Religious Forces

December 8, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


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Chicago churches marched December 7 to protest murders of Eric Garner, Mike Brown and many others

Chicago churches marched December 7 to protest murders of Eric Garner, Mike Brown and many others. Photo: Special to revcom.us

Sunday, December 7—In a matter of a couple of days, a video call-to-action by seven South Side Chicago ministers led to coordinated actions this Sunday by about 100 churches across Chicago. During Sunday services churches held a variety of protests of the murder of Eric Garner and Mike Brown, from sermons to marches to street takeovers, to occupying a major CTA train station. Father Pfleger of St. Sabina Church and 6 other South Side pastors had called for actions, in Pfleger's words, “As a symbol, that as we interrupt traffic, we want to interrupt this racial profiling, interrupt a social justice system that is not working in this country, the injustice and the killing of black youth.”

At the church service Sunday morning at St. Sabina, there were representatives from other churches and other religions, including a rabbi and someone from the Muslim community. They were invited up to speak. Father Pfleger emphasized that there was "genocide" going on, though he didn't specify what he meant by that. He said that the youth across the country have been leading and he was concerned that youth would perceive the church community as irrelevant. During the sermon Pfleger called the youth in the church to come forward and they led the congregation out of the church.

About 250 parishioners marched out of St. Sabina and “interrupted traffic” with a die-in at an intersection and 11 minutes of silence, representing the 11 times Eric Garner said “I can’t breathe.” They were joined by rabbis and two dozen people from a Jewish congregation in the far north suburb of Glencoe, and representatives from the Muslim community. Marchers had colorful posters that were distributed during church: “Black Life Matters,” “The Justice System is Broken,” and “I am Eric Garner.” Father Pfleger emphasized that the point of taking church members into the streets was to get a message through to those youth who that have stepped out that “we have your back.” There were more sermons in the intersection and even the word "revolution" used (but not defined), and after 20 or 30 minutes, the congregation was led back into the church. 

At Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side, more than 500 church members marched out and took over the CTA station at 95th & State singing “We who believe in freedom cannot rest...” See the moving video of their action at right.

From the oppressed Black neighborhoods on the West Side, 500 or more people from at least 9 churches shut down a major intersection for an hour. People at the main Episcopalian church in downtown Chicago reportedly marched; the new Archbishop of Chicago led the Holy Name cathedral congregation in raising their “Hands Up”; and on the north side in Rogers Park and Edgewater, dozens of churches had protests and walk-outs.

About 100 churches across Chicago participated December 7 in protests against police murders. Photo: Special to revcom.us

These actions give a sense of how the resistance across the country has compelled broader sections of society to confront what Bob Avakian has called the “simple and basic truth” that “There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery,” and that the legacy of this slavery has continued and morphed into new forms of white supremacy and remains central to this society. At the event today, the crimes of the system were called out, but not the legitimacy of the system. Father Pfleger framed the action as the duty of "good Americans." But as noted in Revolution newspaper "These actions [defiant and militant struggles against the non-indictments of the cops who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner] have shown people that there is a movement arising that in fact will NOT tolerate this and these actions have pulled increasing numbers of people INTO that beginning-to-be-born movement. All this is still beginning, still first steps in what must be a dogged and determined and hard fight—but yes, the brave fighters for justice have accomplished a great deal."


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