Rev. Jesse Jackson and Father Pfleger lead a protest to end to Chicago's violence on New Year’s Eve

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a priest and civil rights activist, joined the Rev. Jesse Jackson in leading the march down Chicago's Michigan Avenue. (Michael J. O'Loughlin)

On the final day of one of Chicago’s most violent years in decades, several hundred demonstrators, including some of the family members of the more than 750 people killed in the city in 2016, took to the streets demanding justice for their loved ones and calling for an end to the record-levels of violence affecting the city.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a priest and civil rights activist, joined the Rev. Jesse Jackson in leading the march down the Magnificent Mile, the city’s main high-end shopping avenue.

Each of the participants carried wooden crosses bearing the names of victims. Speaking into a bullhorn, Father Pfleger said that while the crosses were heavy, “there is a much heavier weight in the hearts of these family members” mourning the loss of loved ones.

Marchers were silent during the half-mile procession, listening to the names of victims being read aloud. Before turning around, the crowd paused to pray.

The city is experiencing record levels of violence, the worst in nearly two decades. Homicides are up 57 percent and the number of shootings up 46 percent compared to 2015. Over the Christmas weekend alone, more than 60 people were shot and 11 of them died from their injuries.

Much of the violence is confined to poorer neighborhoods, and Father Pfleger said holding the march downtown, in the shadows of businesses such as Nieman Marcus and Cartier, was an effort to remind city leaders that violence is not a “south side problem” but “a Chicago problem.”

 

 

Both Father Pfleger and Rev. Jackson prayed for jobs in poor areas, with the latter calling poverty “a weapon of mass destruction” and calling for a White House summit on revitalizing impoverished areas in America’s cities.

At the conclusion of the march, Father Pfleger called on the crowd to urge “legislators and governors and mayors and aldermen and preachers to do what they’re supposed to do.”

“Will you work everyday?” he asked the crowd, which responded, “I’m in!”

Michael O’Loughlin is the national correspondent for America and author of The Tweetable Pope: A Spiritual Revolution in 140 Characters. Follow him on Twitter at @mikeoloughlin.

Kevin Murphy
3 months 3 weeks ago
This is what happens when you have a demoralized police force. Pfleger and Jackson and useless public displays aren't the solution.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to journalists in the Oval Office at the White House on March 24 after the American Health Care Act was pulled before a vote. (CNS photo/Carlos Barria, Reuters)
Predictably Mr. Trump has also clashed with the Catholic Church and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on many of the policies he has promoted during his first 100 days.
Kevin ClarkeApril 28, 2017
This is not TV viewing for the faint of heart or any other parts of the soul for that matter.
Jake MartinApril 28, 2017
Forty years after the end of the Cultural Revolution, schoolchildren in China are once again being mobilized for an anti-espionage drive reminiscent of the Mao era.
Verna YuApril 28, 2017
Pope Francis shakes hands with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi, in Cairo, April 28 (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia).
The pope emphasized that Egypt, because of its history and geographical position, “occupies a unique role in the Middle East.
Gerard O'ConnellApril 28, 2017