Editorial: Pfleger calls us from a place of pain and anger

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The casket of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee is carried into St. Sabina Church on Tuesday. (Brian Jackson/Chicago Sun-Times)

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We find ourselves, the Rev. Michael Pfleger tells us, “at the uncomfortable intersection of pain and anger.”

It is a place, Pfleger says, where we have met “far too often.”

But, he says, his voice rising with that pain and anger, “we will not park there.”

We will find those who murdered 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee. We will lock them away. We will demand more of a city and nation that produce killers of children. We will demand more of ourselves — in our homes, on our blocks, in our neighborhoods, in our churches.

So says Father Mike.


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Pfleger delivered the homily at Tyshawn’s funeral Tuesday at St. Sabina’s Church. He showered words of love on a little boy. He called us to account. He let nobody off the hook. You can watch and listen to Pfleger’s sermon at saintsabina.org.

“Tyshawn was not a child in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Pfleger said. “Our children have a right to walk our streets. Our children have a right to play in the parks. Our children have a right to sit on the porch.”

It was “the murderer, the assassin, the executioner,” he said, who was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” That person is “a coward” and “a punk.”

But in what kind of society, Pfleger asked, is a child marked for death? Tyshawn’s killer, he said, edged us toward “a new normal, what used to be beyond street code or prison code — that you would not tolerate the killing of children.”

Government spends plenty of money to investigate the death of a police officer in Fox Lake, Pfleger said. It spends “billions of dollars overseas.” But “we don’t have a damn penny for here in Chicago. I’m sick of it.”

When he heard the news the other day that the unemployment rate in United States is down to 5 percent, Pfleger said, he wondered if “that America” includes the south and west sides of Chicago, where the unemployment rate remains in double digits.

“I live in Auburn Gresham. We’re not part of America. Englewood is not part of America. Lawndale is not part of America,” he shouted. “If we’re part of America, treat us like the rest of America.”

And how can we best honor Tyshawn’s memory?

“Nobody,” Pfleger said, “has a right to bring up his name without making a change in your block, in your house, in your neighborhood, in our city.”

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