St. Sabina protest wants focus moved from looting, damage to value of black lives

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of black men and teenagers marched and rallied around St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham, trying to move the conversation from property damage and looting to the value of black lives in America.

"Stop killing us! Stop killing us!" they chanted.

It is a defiant plea.

"America, we are the fathers. These are our sons," they said.

Nearly 200 people participated in the demonstration.

"All these young black men that were standing in front of us, we have to let them know someone is standing behind them and is concerned about their future, said James Capers, protester.

"America, we are your brothers, your fathers, your grandsons," the crowd chanted.

They are determined to remind America that George Floyd mattered , and they do too.

"We really just want a change, like, in the world. Don't look at us as other people. We're black men. We're equal," said Kola Parks, Jr.

"I'm afraid because one day that might happen to me, and I don't want that to happen to me," said Christian Whiteside.

Melody Wright, 6, and her mom Laverne held a sign in support as the peaceful protesters walked from St. Sabina Church to 79th and Racine.

"She wanted to make sure she put out there that her dad matters," said Laverne Wright.

The group said the focus of conversations and coverage shouldn't be on the looting following the police killing of the unarmed black man in Minneapolis, but what they say is the genocide of African American men.

"What started this was decades of black men being killed like animals in America, and nobody did a damn thing about it," said Father Michael Pfleger.

But there was hope there too.

"We've seen black folks treated like garbage in America and I think it's time we do our part," said Kaveh Akbari.

"Now we're talking about it, now everyone is kinda seeing where they were mesing up," said Michael Pullano.

Marc Davis stood behind his 15 and 18 year old sons.

"There is apprehension, there is fear," he said. "They have been pulled over by the police. They are on eggshells with their friends."

"We still have a long way to go. This is literally the tip of the iceberg," said James Williams.

Those who attended the rally said they believe this is just the beginning of a very important conversation. They hope their action now will spur conversations that will bring about a level of healing as well as justice.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.