By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusdaer
It was the second week for Father Michael Pfleger’s weekly peace walk. Dozens of people carried signs, chanting “Break the Cycle of Violence,” “Break the Code of Silence.”
“There is a code of silence all around. There is a code of silence in the street. There’s a code of silence with the police…on the block…in City Hall…in the churches.
“We’ve got to break all the codes of silence and open our mouths, get out in the street, serve the people and turn around our city,” Pfleger said, standing by the Saint Sabina Memorial Wall that contains pictures of slain children.
Last Friday, Pfleger held a press conference on the steps of Saint Sabina Church where he announced there is a new “gang’ sign in town then promptly threw up his hands flashing a peace sign.
This week, Pfleger called on the community to break the cycle of violence and break the code of silence. “Our purpose is to be a presence on the street, because if we are absentee landlords in our community, then we should not be surprised when major things come up.”
He told his supporters the goal is to “give people support, to let them know we are here but also” to let them know that Saint Sabina has services they may need. Pfleger said Saint Sabina offers a GED program as an incentive for youth to leave the gangs.
Pfleger also has wraparound services like the Saint Sabina Employment Resource Center, the Social Service Center and the ARK of Saint Sabina Youth Center. Call the Social Service Center at 773-846-3018.
Pfleger, led by Pat, a former gang leader, this week marched West of 79th and Racine throughout the community chanting, “Put the guns down…this is our neighborhood…stop the killing….”
The marchers handed out flyers that said, “Put the Guns Down,” “Break the Code of Silence” and urged the community to submit anonymous tips to the police department by clicking on www.CPDTIP.com. There is a reward up to $1,000 for tips leading to a felony arrest.
Pfleger’s handout also explained what parents could do to help stem the violence, like conducting house sweeps. “We are calling on grandparents, parents and all homeowners and apartment renters to go through your place of residence from the attic to the basement on a regular basis in search of any hidden guns or drugs,” he said.
If they find any weapons, Pfleger urged them to either call 911 or call Saint Sabina at 773.483.4300 and there will be no questions asked. “We cannot allow our homes to shelter crime,” he said.
Pfleger also asked parents to come out of their homes and talk to their neighbors. “Be the blue light on your block,” he said referring to the blue light campaign he began several years ago that symbolizes peace. The City of Chicago adopted his blue light campaign, which occurs around Dr. King’s birthday. High-rises throughout the Loop turn on blue lights, as does Soldier Field.
Pfleger asked parents to talk to their children as well as those on their blocks. “They are not your enemies. They are our sons, our daughters, our future.”
He asked that parents have their churches, synagogues or mosques to come out in their neighborhoods and offer programs for the youth.
Urging them to become more social justice minded, Pfleger asked his supporters to call their legislators and ask them to pass a common sense gun law in Springfield. He asked them to call 217.782.2000 but also call the White House at 202.456.1414 and ask congressmen to ban assault weapons and to title guns just like they do cars.
Other safety tips on Pfleger’s handout include turning on porch lights. Pfleger will hold his third weekly peace march Friday, June 30, 2017 at 7 p.m.