“Black Lives Do Matter”
By Chinta Strausberg
After one of the bloodiest weekends—which ironically fell on Father’s Day where 104 people were shot; 14 fatalities including children ages 3 and 13—Father Michael L. Pfleger late Monday night, June 22, called on the community to end the Code of Silence and turn in the killers.
But he also issued three mandates to state, city and county officials. He wants the same attention given to gun violence as they did to COVID-19. He wants the police to solve crimes. “This city should be ashamed of the lack of solving crimes in this city.”
As an example, Pfleger said one young lady was shot May 31st and has yet to speak to a police officer. “She’s had two surgeries. You can’t expect people to be deterred from shooting if nothing happens to them in the city of Chicago.”
Another example of homicide cases not solved was raised by Latonya Graves, whose son, Joseph Graves, was killed on December 11, 2015. He was a college student who did not want to live in Chicago because of the gun violence, and he came home for a semester break on December 10. He was killed the next day. “Cases before him and after him are not solved. We need the police to solve these cases. That is what we need today,” Latonya Graves said.
And, the third thing Father Pfleger is demanding is for the community to break the Code of Silence, which is so key to solving a string of unsolved murders in Chicago. “People have to talk. We have to find out who these shooters are because if you shoot once, you kill once, you will shoot and kill again,” Pfleger said.
He called on the state’s attorney, the sheriff, the head of the justice system, the governor, the mayor, the county president to “Get together in a room. Close the door and figure this out.” He added: “That’s what we pay you to do.”
Teyonna Lofton was shot at a nearby gas station. “People get shot every day around here.” When she was shot, Lofton said the police did not come. Her mother brought her to the hospital. “My mama asked the police to help her. She got me there on her own.” The violence, she said, “[has] got to stop.”
With tears in her eyes, Yolanda Addison, a mother of three, told the story of her sister’s son, Toby Boens, 22, whom she raised from the age of 7, and who was gunned down on Father’s Day at Chicago Avenue and Springfield. I have had guardianship over him. His mother and father are deceased, and he leaves behind a 5-year-old son who he did not get a chance to see for a while because he had just gotten out of jail,” she told this reporter.
To Mayor Lightfoot, Addison said, “We need your help. Things are getting out of hand. Our children are constantly being hurt. Our hearts are being broken. We need your help with this gun violence.”
Trevon Bosley, the brother of slain Terrell Bosley, who was part of Saint Sabina’s Bold Resistance Against Violence Everywhere (B.R.A.V.E.), said, “There were 104 people shot in Chicago this past weekend and 14 killed. Of these 14, 12 were children. One was a 3-year-old. Children are dying before they even get a chance to truly live, and what is the city doing about it?”
Bosley listed a number of things the city could be doing but isn’t—like providing more funds needed for violence prevention, mental health, jobs or more money for schools. He ticked off a number of budget items that did get funding, like increasing the police budget from $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion, protecting the North Side and downtown while our neighborhoods were being looted.
“The city is doing a terrible job of protecting the lives of Black and brown youth whose blood is flowing through the streets of Chicago,” said Bosley. “We saw the response of funding of COVID-19. Where is the same interest in gun violence?”
Bosley said to a cheering crowd: “We are not going to sit back and allow you to do nothing while we die from police, COVID-19 and poverty. We will not accept a lackluster job of running the city. Just like we got rid of (Mayor Emanuel) Rahm, we will get rid of you, too.”
Anthony Lovelace, a member of BR.A.V.E., said Black and brown lives make up nearly 50 percent of the city’s population. “Our problems are not Black and brown problems. Our problems are not South and West side problems. They are Chicago’s problems.”
Lovelace said when people ask him how the city can pay for ending violence, he turned to just a few of the city’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) programs. He said the funds are supposed to be used for rebuilding the community—not for downtown Chicago. He said resources are needed on the South and West sides.”
Once again, Father Pfleger urged the city to use its own policy of having CHA to issue vouchers that could help those wanting to turn in killers move to another state.
“The City of Chicago can contact Dallas and exchange a Section 8 Voucher. We can protect you. The CHA told me that a year-and-a-half ago,” Lovelace said.
Father Pfleger said he is planning a huge march to address and illustrate the gun violence and unsolved murders in the near future.
During the Monday night press conference, which was held outside of Saint Sabina, 1210 W. 78th Place, Father Pfleger was also flanked by other gunshot victims and parents who have lost their children to gun violence.
Included in this group was Pam Bosley, whose son, Terrell, was murdered on April 4, 2006, but the case has not yet been solved.
Many stood clutching pictures of their loved ones—precious memories but reminders of unsolved cases. Last year, police said their murder clearance rate was 29 percent.
Citing a string of people shot, Father Pfleger told reporters, “There should be outrage, the same outrage there was when a police officer kills should be the same outrage we have today. But when Black lives are taken by whomever they are taken by, there should be outrage in the city of Chicago with Black, brown and white people. Black lives do matter.”
Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-16) said, “We are demanding that the 29 legislative Black Caucus members and Gov. Pritzker establish an African American Rapid Relief Task Force to provide relief and funding with all of the challenging things in the Black community. A resourced community is a safe community.”
Father Pfleger said he talked to the mayor before the press conference began and she promised she would deal with the gun violence. “We are holding her to that promise,” he said.
Ald. David Moore (17th) said, “You can do this,” in fighting for justice and an end to this violence.
The Rev. Will Hall prayed at the end of the press conference.