Father Pfleger to hold “Occupy the Streets” peace rally Friday
“All boots on the ground for the children”
By Chinta Strausberg
The father of a murdered son, Father Michael L. Pfleger Thursday urged all parents and children to join him in the “Occupy The Streets” peace march and rally 7 p.m. Friday, June 21, 2013, outside of Saint Sabina Church, 78th Place and Throop Streets, to take a stand and make a declaration that this summer Chicago’s streets will be peaceful for the children’s sake.
“Seven people were killed and 46 shot last weekend and nine were shot last night,” said Father Pfleger who lost his foster son, Jarvis Franklin, 18, on May 30, 1998 at 79th and Carpenter and a second son, Beronti, 33, who collapsed in his Orlando, Florida home on June 3, 2012 from an unknown cause. Pfleger invites everyone in Chicago to attend this event because he says violence is everybody’s problem.
When contacted, Joel Harter, assistant pastor at Hyde Park Union Church, agrees saying, “It’s about recognizing that this violence affects all of us no matter where we live even in the suburbs. We need to find ways to work together across neighborhoods to end this violence. It is shocking that we are not upset about this. We should recognize this violence for what it is, a crisis.”
And, this violence is a crisis, which is why in June of 2009 Father Pfleger turned the U.S. flag that sits outside of the Saint Sabina Academy upside down as a sign of a national crisis. “We’re in trouble,” he said then. Pfleger has threatened to do it again as the body count climbs on a daily basis. Last Sunday Pfleger told his congregation, “There’s a war going on out there.”
Tired of attending funerals of children and not more graduations, he is continuing his war against violence and is fighting back. He made a clarion call for all “boots on the ground” and for “soldiers of peace” to join him on Friday.
But, Father Pfleger wants you to be there not just because you believe in social justice or want to be a part of the solution but also be there in the memory of all of the children who were victims of gun violence like: Hadiya Pendleton, 15, killed just blocks from President Obama’s home and just a week after performing at Obama’s inauguration, for Pam and Tommie Bosley's son Terrell, 18, who was shot and killed on April 4, 2006 outside the Lights of Zion Missionary Bible Church.
Be there for Annette Nance-Holt and Ronald Holt, parents of Blair Holt, 16, who was fatally shot aboard a CTA bus in May of 2007 while shielding a female friend from an enraged gunman, Michael Pace, 16, now serving a 100-year-sentence for Blair’s murder.
Be there for 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins who was shot multiple times on March 12, 2013 while in the arms of her father, Jonathan Watkins, allegedly by Koman Willis, 33, charged with first degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. The shooting took place all over an alleged stolen video game.
And who can forget about Shirley Chambers, a mother who lost four children to gun violence. Dead is her youngest child, Ronnie Chambers, 33, who was one of seven shot on January 26, 2013, but she has had to mourn the deaths of three more children, La Toya Chambers, 15, Carlos Chambers, 18, and Jerome Chambers, 23, who died a similar fate.
Joining Father Pfleger Friday will be joined by Nathaniel and Cleopatra Pendleton, the parents of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, gunshot survivor Ondelee Perteet, 18, who four years ago was shot at a party, left a quadriplegic but who shocked Pfleger and the church when he walked down the aisle to get his communion and who recently graduated from Wendell Phillips High School, Brandon Mahone who performed on NBC’s “The Voice,” Purpose Over Pain, a group of mothers who lost their children, Spoken Word artist Mama Brenda and many more.
Last year, more than 2,000 attended a similar event. Father Pfleger would like to see that number double. Hundreds of children have been killed over the past few years which is why Father Pfleger is asking everyone who cares about the lives and future of children to attend Friday’s event. Free T-shirts will be given to those arriving at 6 p.m.
Bring the picture of your loved ones who were victims of gun violence so that they too can be remembered and know they did not die in vain.