CHICAGO (CBS) — After days of protest and destruction throughout the Chicago area, local political and faith leaders urged for calm and called for reform in the criminal justice system.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was joined by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, Cardinal Blase Cupich along with other faith and community leaders to address the violence of the past few days after the death of George Floyd.
Across the country, protests in the name of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis police custody. Video shows officer Derek Chuavin with his knee on Floyd’s neck.
He has since charged with third degree murder in Floyd’s death.
“What happened over the past few days in so many parts of Chicago and throughout the county is heartbreaking. Heed Doctor Martin Luther King’s call to action, direct action and peacefully protested this murder. The right to peaceful protest is enshrined in our constitution,” Preckwinkle said.
“I have marched with many of you. I have marched with Black Lives Matter. I have marched with striking workers. The right to peaceful assembly and protest is one of the most central, one of the most noble tenants of our democracy. I cherish it because it continues to teach me what will truly help this country heal to find a way forward,” added the Cook County Board President.
Pritzker asked for people to protest peacefully and to look beyond the chaos of the last few days to not only rebuild structures but rebuild relationships and work to improve the criminal justice system.
“We must find a way forward. I do not pretend to know the pain that is experienced by black america, the pain of knowing that what happened to George Floyd could happen to you or to your child. I know that at this moment, so many people are overwhelmed here in the state of Illinois with rage and with passion and with sorrow. As we look for a way forward, as we look to reform our laws and our system of justice,” he said.
“Real change, structural change comes from protests paired with policy. That means police reform with genuine investigations, transparency and accountability. That means taking the justice and criminal justice and making it mean something. That means sustained economic investment in black and brown communities across our state,” Prizker added. “Activism is critical and it will take activism plus action to build ourselves into the state, into the nation that we must strive to become.”
Among the faith leaders present, Cardinal Blase Cupich.
“Last week, we had a death in the family. Our brother George was murdered. We should mourn. We should be angry and hurt but we also should heed the wishes of the Floyd family and not dishonor this gentle memory by spreading the sickness of violence,” Cupich said.
“Rather we need peaceful action to stop the hatred that has ended the lives of countless black Americans. There is power in peace. Nonviolence has toppled empires and corrected injustice and it can work again.”
Jahmal Cole of the community action organization My Block, My Hood, My City added that the violence was not a path forward to create change.
“I don’t want to devalue how you are all feeling. I understand how you are all feeling but don’t do this. I’m going to say I understand how you are all feeling and there is a way we can resist constructively,” Cole said.
“These are mom-and-pop shops that are supporting football and basketball teams. These are gas stations and mom-and-pop shops. They donate water to the school where they had no air conditioning. They are paying for newsletters from block clubs and community groups. There is a way to resist constructively. You can put pressure on institutions to address issues you care about.”
Source: CBS Chicago