Protests and peace: Pritzker, Preckwinkle, Cupich call for ‘peaceful action’ to stem ‘contagion’ of racism

Protests and peace: Pritzker, Preckwinkle, Cupich call for ‘peaceful action’ to stem ‘contagion’ of racism

Cardinal Blase Cupich urges people to protest peacefully Tuesday. | Screen image

“We know there is a contagion spreading across the land — not only the coronavirus, but racism,” Cupich said. “And we can stop it, and that begins by making the unwavering commitment today to cleanse our hearts so that it will not infect our homes and our children.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle joined Cardinal Blase and other faith and community activists to call for protests and peace, urging people to “seize this moment” without “destroying our communities.”

Cupich said “we should mourn,” and “we should be angry and hurt” about Floyd’s death at the hands of police, but he urged people not to “dishonor [Floyd’s] gentle memory with the sickness of violence.”

“We need peaceful action to stop the hatred that has ended the lives of countless Black Americans,” Cupich said.

“We know there is a contagion spreading across the land — not only the coronavirus, but racism,” Cupich said. “And we can stop it, and that begins by making the unwavering commitment today to cleanse our hearts so that it will not infect our homes and our children.”

The Tuesday afternoon news conference at KLEO Art Residences on the city’s South Side follows another day of protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and looting in Chicago.

Preckwinkle called Floyd’s “racist, preventable death,” “nothing new.”

“We must seize this moment and try to bring freedom and justice to every American but we cannot do this by destroying communities,” Preckwinkle said.

Pritzker said he doesn’t “pretend to know the pain that’s experienced in Black America,” but he does know that many are “overwhelmed by “rage” and passion and sorrow.

“Community activism and peaceful organizing and faith must help show the way,” the governor said.

The governor said it’s important to establish an agenda led by “the very peaceful protestors” who’ve been out on the streets the past few days. He’s supportive of police reforms though he’s “reluctant” to call for a special session of the General Assembly to potentially implement policy changes because the Legislature should drive the schedule itself.

While touring the state, Pritzker said some of the “most heart-breaking things” that he’s seen are the small businesses, many of which have only recently been allowed to reopen after his stay-at-home order forced them to shutter, now faced with rebuilding their ransacked stores.

Jahmal Cole, the founder and CEO of My Block, My Hood, My City, said he didn’t want to “devalue how y’all feeling” and “there’s a way we can resist constructively.”

“Busting up businesses, like gas stations in your own community, that’s not intelligent,” Cole said. “There’s a way to resist constructively.”

One of those ways is peaceful protesting, Cole said.

He also pointed small business owners to the My Block, My Hood, My City website to potentially receive money from the group’s small business relief fund to help remove glass or graffiti among other things.

And he urged young people to go to the site to be hired to help clean up store fronts and “help fix some of this looting.”

On Tuesday, the message was focused on looking ahead.

The governor said the state is looking to the federal government for support for the “basic functions of our state.”

“We have lost revenues in our state, and we need to rebuild those coffers in order for us to deliver the services on the ground that people need and the supports that small businesses need,” Pritzker said.

“The last five days have at least demonstrated to everybody who wasn’t already paying attention that we have systemic racism that also needs to be addressed in a state budget … we’re the land of Lincoln, we’re the land of Barack Obama … but over the last five days I think it’s been brought to the fore that our communities — our black and brown communities — are the ones that we need to focus on.”

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