Housing protesters disrupt annual MLK breakfast

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The 31st annual interfaith breakfast honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago's South Loop was interrupted Friday morning by fair-housing advocates.

The breakfast celebrates Dr. King's life and commemorates his mission of economic empowerment and human rights.

A small group of fair-housing advocates chained one of the doors to the Hilton Chicago shut, preventing some guests from getting inside. Officers used lock cutters to remove the chain and detained some protesters.

"We are here because Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City of Chicago has not kept its promise to the residents of public housing," said Pastor Jeff Campbell, Chicago Housing Initiative.

As Emanuel began his opening remarks, a few protesters entered the grand ballroom, demanding justice and affordable housing for low income residents in the city.

After pausing for about 10 minutes, the mayor continued his speech. Security quickly moved in, escorted the protesters out and stood guard at all of the entrances of the hotel.

Local religious and civic leaders were slated to speak in tribute to the civil rights icon.

Henry English, who founded the Black United Fund of Illinois, was awarded the Champion of Freedom Award posthumously. He died last March after a life of service devoted to racial equality.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, Senator Richard Durbin, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and other city leaders were in the audience.

Outside the breakfast, Durbin said the protests were actually quite fitting for the event.

"They made us feel a little uncomfortable when they came into the room in the middle of the mayor's speech. But we were celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, who made America feel uncomfortable. So it's fine. That's is their constitutional right," Durbin said.
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