Chicago pastors invite 500 Black men to join walk in response to downtown chaos last weekend

Samantha Chatman Image
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Chicago pastors plan walk in response to downtown chaos
After huge crowds of teens caused chaos in downtown Chicago, pastors are organizing a walk along Michigan Avenue to show teens they're not alone.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago faith leaders are organizing a walk this Saturday in response to last weekend's chaos downtown.

The purpose is to hold teens accountable, but also to show them they're not alone, and expose them to resources that will help them thrive in the city.

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The local pastors say the teens in the video clips from last weekend belong to them and their community, so the pastors feel it's their responsibility to come together to make sure what happened last weekend doesn't continue.

After waking up Sunday morning to shocking video of chaos erupting downtown, Dr. Charlie Dates, who leads both Progressive and Salem Baptist Church, said he knew he had to do something.

"I was broken hearted and tearful," Dates said. "I came to the church, both churches, on Sunday and showed the video. And you should have heard the gasps."

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He said it was important for his congregation to not only see what was happening, but to share in the responsibility of guiding our youth toward a better path.

"We're holding ourselves accountable," Dates said. "These kids essentially belong to us, but we are not absolving them of responsibility."

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With the help of other Black faith leaders like Bishop Dr. Horace Smith of Apostolic Faith Church and Pastor John Hannah of New Life Covenant Church, the group is holding a walk downtown on Saturday. They've inviting 500 Black men to join them to address the problem.

"I'm a pediatric oncologist. I've studied childhood development," Smith said. "Much of who children are is a product of their environment. It is not to excuse them, it is to understand them. We have to do something in a responsible manner to get their attention to let them know you're a part of us. Let's connect together as a family."

Hannah added, "We don't agree with the behavior, but we are not going to allow them to be put in a certain category. These are our kids. And what we are saying is come, tell us what you need."

The walk will start at 6 p.m. Saturday Roosevelt and Michigan Avenue and will go down Michigan to Wacker. Along the way, the pastors say they'll be educating young men on resources and activities available to them across the city, including downtown. They'll also educate the youth on different career paths in the city that are well within reach.

"For those that want jobs, that want opportunities to connect and be mentored, we've got all of that," Dates said. "If we give our kids a nurturing and nourishing environment, they will blossom and bloom. When men stand up, boys tend to sit down. And I think this demonstration of love will call out the brilliance, the beauty and the potential in our children."