Chicago Tribune: Protests seek to clean up the dirt of injustice, Letter by Rev. Michael L. Pfleger

Chicago Tribune - Protests seek to clean up the dirt of injustice by Rev. Michael L. Pfleger


By Rev. Michael L. Pfleger

Due to the failure of the justice system in the recent killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, we have witnessed an outpouring across this nation by mostly young people, but people of all ages, races and backgrounds.

This public display of outrage is the very best of democracy. We have not witnessed such a diversity of individuals in marches since the civil rights movement.

Holder seeks better police-community ties in visit to Chicago
Holder seeks better police-community ties in visit to Chicago
The protests put the spotlight on a broken justice system, on racial profiling, on the increasing militarization of police and the broken relationship between law enforcement and some of the communities it serves.

The failure to convict law-enforcement officers in the fatal shootings of black youth in America, the seeming inability to protect African-American youth, easy access to guns, a lack of economic development in all communities and the deep issue of racism and inequality in our country forces us to focus on something that has been avoided for far too long. However, the reality is that if we fixed law enforcement — and that is a real "if" — we still would find ourselves in a divided and unequal society.

We must have the courage and determination to deal with poverty, unemployment, education (both in excellent neighborhood schools and alternative schools), communities that have been abandoned and thus look like third-world countries and the lack of access and opportunity to all individuals in all communities. The reality is that racism, classism, sexism and militarism run in the DNA of America's bloodstream.

A police war on black men?

Unless we find the courage to face these deeper issues and begin to eradicate these age-old realities, fixing law enforcement alone will not heal the cancer that is killing us. It's time for America to strive to become what she claims to be, or the protests should not only continue but turn into mass demonstrations and economic boycotts.

We are at a crossroads. God has pulled back the rug and caused us to face the dirt that we have swept under the rug. Now let's clean it up!

Rev. Michael L. Pfleger is senior pastor at Faith Community of St. Sabina in Chicago.

Read the Letter on Chicago Tribune websites at



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