CHICAGO (CBS) — In the face of a murder a few blocks away from his church, Rev. Michael Pfleger took some bold steps Sunday, and so did several dozen of the faithful from St. Sabina Parish.
As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, Pfleger and several members of his church marched through the Gresham neighborhood, with a very vocal demand to end the violence.
Led by the often unconventional Pfleger, the men of St. Sabina marched through the violence-plagued Gresham community on Sunday, calling out gangs by name.
“Our children are dying every day,” Joseph Saunders said.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports
The marchers went car-to-car, and door-to-door, handing out fliers; and encouraging neighbors to break the code of silence, and squeal on gangs. The White Castle parking lot where 22-year-old Quinton Davis was shot and killed last week was one of their stops.
“It has to start somewhere. So, if a flyer is going to let me know that I have to tell someone else to stop shooting and stop killing our kids out here, then, you know, I appreciate this flyer,” Kimberly Brooks said.
Along the way, it wasn’t difficult finding families coming to terms with violence.
Asked if such marches and rallies make a difference, Farkhanda Muhammad said, “I pray that it does, because I have a 6-year-old. So, every day we’re coming home and she hears sirens; and she’s scared. She’s like, ‘Mommy, somebody’s hurt.’”
“My mom won’t let me out of the house unless somebody is watching me,” neighbor Tiffany Greshem said.
The prelude to Sunday’s march was Pfleger’s Sunday mass, where he embraced victims of violence, and issued a call he’s made before.
“We have congressmen and senators that will not do something about easy access to guns, because it’s black and brown children being killed in this country; and nobody gives a damn about our children,” Pfleger said.
Amidst the sermons and the march, Pfleger also addressed criticisms he’s received online over his firebrand style, which has defined him and his causes for years.
“Some people that emailed me and sent back on Facebook negatively and said I’m a heresy and I’m not a good catholic priest and all of this; to Hell with you,” Pfleger said.
Pleger’s role is with the Catholic Church changing in the coming months. By summer he will share pastoring duties at St. Sabina, as he also becomes the Chicago Archdiocese’s representative for newly-developing anti-violence initiatives. They will include a particular focus on issues surrounding gun violence.
He also has been named the temporary administrator of St. Margaret of Scotland parish, 9849 S. Throop St., where Rev. Daniel Mallette survived a brutal attack by two robbers last December.
A new pastor will be named to St. Margaret of Scotland on July 1, and Mallette will remain as pastor emeritus.