On Thursday, Rev. Marshall Hatch, an Austin resident and pastor of the New Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in West Garfield Park, spoke out in support of Reesheda Graham-Washington, an Austin native and owner of Live Cafe in Oak Park. Graham-Washington’s establishment was the target of a racist attack earlier this week. 

For this West Side Lives, I wanted to simply share Rev. Hatch’s comments in full, since they’re so timely. They happened a day after President Donald Trump incited a mob of mostly white supporters, who rioted and looted the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., in an unprecedented act of insurrection. 

The fact is that we are all, as some of us have fought many fights over the years, we are all West Siders, whether you know it or not. 

I am delighted to be here on the far West Side, which is called Oak Park, and declare that we are all one community. 

Just in the last 24 hours, we’ve seen the danger of appeasing this kind of hatred and if we do not nip it in the bud, like any virus it will replicate and eventually it will overcome us.  

We stand with Mrs. Washington. We demand a full and thorough investigation. Find out who is the perpetrator of this crime. This was a criminal act. It was a crime and we demand that it be investigated thoroughly. 

I’m very proud to be a West Sider, because we believe good things come from the West Side. In 1966, Dr. King lived on the West Side. A few days from now, we will be commemorating the birthday of Dr. King and before he left us, before he was taken from us, he told us what our stark choice is.  

He said, ‘We will either live in chaos or we will live in community, and there will be no middle ground.’ At this point in our country’s history, we have a decision to make and it is a stark decision. We will either live together as brothers and sisters, or we will perish as fools.  

And so, today, in front of Live Cafe, we reject chaos.