West Side clergy lead Sunday march

The June 7 peaceful protest ended outside 15th District police station

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By Bonni McKeown

Roughly 500 people walked from Central and Division to the Chicago Police District 15 Station, 5700 W. Madison St., on June 7. They chanted "Black Lives Matter!" and called for more resources to support fair policing, education and black business development in the community.

Black ministers, led by Pastor Tyree Beard of City of David Ministries at Central and Division, organized the peaceful protest.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (7th) spoke briefly about his goal for more money for education and jobs on the West and South sides. State Rep. Camille Lilly (78th), representing black elected officials on the West Side, expressed support for the 15th District officers before saying that "We must hold police accountable."

District 15 Commander Yolanda Talley spoke outside the station.

"Thank you for making the district part of this," she said. "We needed this peace."   Officers blocked off traffic on Central Avenue. Other police informally milled outside the station, wearing summer uniforms. 

Black ministers voiced the themes of peace and persistence, and of leadership from a new generation of ministers, saying "this is our hour of change." 

Church singers led "Amazing Grace" and an updated, bouncier version of "We Shall Overcome."

"We demand our police treat us like the citizens that walk the streets of Oak Park of Naperville," one pastor said. If businesses want to take black residents' money and give them no respect, they should not come back to the neighborhood, he said.

"I don't condone looting or violence," said another minister. "But why is it we make a noise about looting in Target, but not about classrooms that have more than 30 kids?"

Two young women who asked that their names not be used, carried a sign saying "Defund police."

Asked for her definition of the slogan, of the young women visualized a gradual substitution of social workers, EMTs and mental health workers for most situations, and that policing itself should come from within the community.

The first steps in reform should be removing militarized gear and weapons from police departments, she said.

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