The Crusader Newspaper Group

Pfleger March Exposes Mt. Greenwood Racism

By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader

Father Michael L. Pfleger on Sunday blamed the nationwide protests and victims of racial acts (including his own son) on Trump’s fanning the flames of racial politics that appeals to white privilege.

Citing the overt hate acts blamed on Trump’s racially-charged campaign, Father Pfleger acknowledged that “my own son’s car was vandalized” though he is not sure it had anything to do with the fact that his son lives in a mostly white neighborhood or that his son’s last name is Pfleger.

“We’ve seen a man pulled from his car at Roosevelt Road and beaten because they said he voted for Trump…,” Pfleger said, while listing similar acts of hate that have occurred as a result of Trump’s anti-immigration, anti-disability, and anti-women remarks.

Narrowing his comments to Chicago, Pfleger gave a chilling account of his recent protest in Mount Greenwood, a southwest side community of active and retired Irish Catholic policemen and firemen.

It was in Mount Greenwood two weeks ago where a road rage incident occurred between Joshua Beal, 25, and two off duty Chicago police officers.

Beal, from Indianapolis, was in Chicago to attend his cousin’s funeral. He allegedly pointed his gun at the police and was fatally shot. The Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) is investigating the case.

Police arrested Beal’s brother, Michael Beal, 28, accusing him of allegedly trying to take an officer’s gun and of choking him. Michael Beal’s  $500,000 bail was paid anonymously and he was released last Thursday.

The fallout from Beal’s shooting death took an ugly turn when students from Marist, a Catholic high school, reacted negatively to a planned Black Lives Matter protest.

Marist Principal Larry Tucker canceled classes upon learning of racially charged Tweets sent out by his students. He expelled five of his students; however, more than 5,000 supporters signed an online petition asking that the expulsions be reversed.

Last Tuesday Pfleger, accompanied by 30 protesters including community activist Jedidiah Brown, were at 111th and Kedzie where Pfleger said they were met by “angry” white people.

“We said two things… we wanted transparency and we wanted to make sure all the cameras are looked at” involving the shooting of Beal. “We just wanted justice.

“Because of what happened out there on Sunday afternoon and the racial slurs, we wanted to make a statement that there is no place in Chicago that any individual, despite their race or their creed, should not be able to go and not feel threatened and feel like they are not welcomed.”

But protesters’ demands were met with jeers and racism and they were told “go back to your ghetto. Get out of here you, n….” “I was called a ‘n….’ “I saw a mother and a young sixth or seventh grade daughter together give me the finger and tell me ‘F Pfleger.’”

Pfleger said the crowd’s anger got so bad that the police told them to leave because they could no longer protect them. “We went down an alley and back to our cars when over 100 folks came running down the block and the police said ‘get out of here now…. ‘We can’t stop them.’

“They had to escort us down an alley to get us out of Mount Greenwood in 2016.

“I said then, and I’ll say it today, I have not seen such hate and such anger since I was a junior in high school in 1966 in Marquette Park. This is 2016,” said Pfleger.

Pfleger’s 1966 comment was a reference to the day when he pulled over his bike to look at his neighbors spitting, cursing and throwing rocks at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was leading an open housing march in Marquette Park. Pfleger says he is a priest today because he marveled at Dr. King’s ability to conduct a peaceful, non-violent march even in the face of possible death.

Activist Brown, who is also a minister, said they later went back to Mount Greenwood, and were again surrounded by more than 600 mostly white male men carrying “Blue Lives Matter” signs. Both Pfleger and Brown said the protesters never mentioned their allegiance to cops, rather, just displayed their racial hatred towards blacks.

“It was disheartening,” Brown said. “It was something I couldn’t believe. We committed to going back Tuesday to let them know it was unacceptable. There is no place in Chicago that Blacks cannot go and express themselves in any situation.

“But, when we arrived, an even larger crowd met us calling us “niggers.” They said Father Pfleger “was a disgrace to the Diocese and that we would be lynched and that they would do us bodily harm.  They were 600 to 700 strong. We were enclosed by a disgraceful cave of hatred.

“What is so amazing is that those are the same people who patrol my streets. That is one of the neighborhoods that police, lawyers and judges come from,” he said.

Brown said, “They were not there to support Blue Lives Matter. They were there to address their privilege. That is why Chicago remains a very segregated city because white privilege, white supremacy and racism are alive in this city.”

While police escorted them out of Mount Greenwood, Brown said he is not sure they used their police powers to protect them.

“I saw police laughing, giving the high five’s to some of the men in the crowd. We never should have been surrounded by that crowd not with the amount of police present,” Brown stated. “And, the protection, well, after all, like someone said, some of those people were their (cops) relatives.”

On Sunday Father Pfleger said that since the election, many are frightened about what lies ahead. “Last Sunday we turned back the clocks. Last Tuesday, we turned back America.”

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