One of Chicago’s most prominent African-American clergy organizations, The Leaders Network, along with a number of its allies, have vowed to join Rev. Al Sharpton, the National Action Network, and several hundred faith leaders for the 1,000 Ministers March in Washington, D.C. in a call for social justice.
The announcement of the March collaboration was made at a press conference held at New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, 4301 W. Washington Blvd., the home church of Rev. Marshall Hatch, co-chairman of the board for The Leaders Network. The march is scheduled to kick-off from the Dr. King monument and travel to the Department of Justice on August 28. The date of the march comes with historical relevance as on August 28, 1963, Dr. King delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
“You can’t go to the end of the speech and grab the dream without the content of what the dream is about,” said Sharpton. “I don’t think the march is to influence as much as it is to announce to the nation that we will not be turned back.”
Sharpton, flanked by over a dozen faith leaders, declared throughout his statement that “dream busters” will not be allowed to continue their assignment of subverting justice without opposition. He highlighted some of the remarks made by President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions with regards to Chicago’s gun violence and what appears to be a high level of disinterest in enforcing the consent decree issued by the U.S. Department of Justice with regards to the systemic racial and police brutality issues facing Chicago’s Police Department.
“President Trump said he’s going to send in the Feds, but you should not send the Feds in and say they are not going to deal with the report from the U.S. Department of Justice,” said Sharpton. “You must enforce the patrolling of these communities with the sensitivity to the patterns and practice that some police have demonstrated in these communities. You can’t have it both ways; you must fight criminal behavior whether the criminal has on blue jeans or a blue uniform; a criminal is a criminal and ought to be treated like that.”
Sharpton explained he made the call to 1,000 ministers because “it’s time we stood up” and proclaimed that “it’s time for the Christian Right to meet the right Christians.”
“For those Evangelical ministers who stood in the Oval Office and laid hands on President Trump, my question is what ministers will lay hands on the poor, those who will lose Medicare, those who will be subject to no gun control laws, those who will be subject to schools closing in Chicago,” said Sharpton.
Pastor Cy Fields, president of The Leaders Network, explained the reason behind the group’s collective decision to participate in the march is because of their call for justice. He said leading up to the March efforts will be made to galvanize a collaboration of faith groups and organizations with the goal of bringing a delegation to Washington, D.C. He made sure to clarify that the March was open to all genders, denominations, and generations.
“We have found that this current administration seeks to work against all that Dr. King believed in and so we’re going to stand on the moral issue of justice and justice for all,” said Fields.
Fields said the matter of relevancy extends to Chicago by highlighting the dissent decree made by the U.S. Department of Justice that has been widely disregarded by Sessions since he’s been sworn into office.
“What’s in jeopardy is the hard work, labor of so many and the voices of those on the streets and of those who suffered at the hands of police violence that means that there will not be any supervision over the reforms,” said Fields.
Pastor Ira Acree, co-chairman of the board for The Leaders Network, called for DOJ oversight in the execution for the consent decree suggested and said it was the “only” way to begin the process of creating true reform within CPD.
“We’re still reeling from the aftermath of the Laquan McDonald murder cover up,” said Acree. “We have extra motivation to have a strong presence on the premises of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. A scathing DOJ report gave us information for the world to know, but many of us locally already knew that we have police abuse that goes on in Chicago, systemic racism, and a blue code of silence.”
Acree called for an end of “race baiting rhetoric” in favor of actions that would truly make America better for once and all.
Individuals interested in attending the march alongside The Leaders Network were asked to visit
theleadersnetworkchicago.org for more details.