CHICAGO, IL–(ENEWSPF)–August 14, 2017. Approximately 200 people from Muslim, Jewish, and Christian social justice organizations and congregations gathered in Federal Plaza to express their solidarity with Charlottesville and the activists who bravely confronted white supremacists over the weekend. Sharing words and song reflecting the most sacred elements of the gathering’s common faith traditions, leaders also urged participants to hold local elected officials accountable for their failure to enact policies to protect communities of color in Chicago and Illinois.
“As religious leaders, we have a particular responsibility to make our voice heard, because white supremacists cloak their hatred in the context of faith,” said Rabbi Brant Rosen, a convener of the gathering, “We have a responsibility to sound the alarm from the sacred heart of our respective faith traditions: the voice of God who calls on us to stand with the vulnerable, dismantle systems of oppression and bear witness to the transformative power of love.” Rabbi Rosen is a co-founder of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council, founder of Tzedek Chicago and Midwest Director for the American Friends Service Committee.
Fliers were handed out to attendees urging them to call Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to demand that he publicly oppose exceptions included in the Welcoming City ordinance currently stalled in a City Council committee, which would stop collaboration between the Chicago Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and protect constitutional rights to due process. These exceptions – commonly known as “carve-outs” – would exclude individuals with prior felonies, current felony charges, a criminal warrant, or individuals identified as “gang members” under the complete discretion of Chicago police. This would leave many Chicagoans, primarily from black and brown communities, vulnerable to profiling, policing and deportation.
“Even as we stand together against white supremacy in Charlottesville, we must ensure that police and ICE are not empowered to terrorize and criminalize black and brown communities right here at home,” said Cinthya Rodriguez of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN).
The City of Chicago has stalled negotiations with community members and progress on removing the discriminatory carve-outs, leaving a series of amendments to the Ordinance in Committee since February 2017.
Sarah Thompson, Executive Director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, posed a question – “What if those of us working for justice trained as hard as those training for war?” – and closed the event by echoing the calls for individuals to call Mayor Emanuel and leading the crowd in song.
Video from Interfaith Worker Justice here.
Other speakers included Sarah Thompson of the Christian Peacemaker Teams; Cantor Susie Lewis Friedman of Beth Emet the Free Synagogue; Pastor Tom Gaulke of First Lutheran Church of the Trinity; Abdullah Mitchel, Director of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago; Reverend Lisa Noel Seiwert, Executive Director of the InterReligious Institute at Chicago Theological Seminary; Judy Levey, Executive Director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs; Revered Michael Nabors of Second Baptist Church in Evanston; and Rev. Drew Reindfleish of Bethel Lutheran Church. Co-sponsors included Tzedek Chicago; Muslim Peace Coalition; First Trinity Lutheran Chuch of the Trinity; Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago; Christian Peacemaker Teams; American Friends Service Commitee – Chicago; Beth Emet – The Free Synagogue; Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago; Interfaith Worker Justice ; 2nd Baptist Church of Evanston; American Muslims for Palestine ; Congregation Makom Shalom; St. Luke’s Lutheran Church; Lake Street Church of Evanston; Jewish Council on Urban Affairs; InterReligious Institute at Chicago Theological Seminary and the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America.
JVP-Chicago is the local branch of Jewish Voice for Peace (www.jvp.org), a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine. Jewish Voice for Peace has over 200,000 online supporters, over 60 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Council, an Artist Council, an Academic Advisory Council, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists.
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