Two weeks after racial tensions boiled over between some in the African American and Latino communities, two giant Black Lives Matter banners were unveiled Wednesday in Little Village as a symbol of unity.
“We’ve seen systematic racial oppression in our country, and as a Latino community, we need to stand up to that, we need to stand up for our Black brothers and sisters, and stand with them,” said Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd), whose ward encompasses, among others, parts of Little Village and North Lawndale.
In the raising of the banners, the Latino community is saying, “unapologetically, Black lives matter,” Rodriguez said.
The banners, hanging on either side of the Little Village arch, were paid for by the neighborhood’s chamber of commerce. They are expected to stay up at least through the end of the summer, said Blanca Soto, the chamber’s executive director.
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“Supporting the rights of our Black brothers and sisters is the right response to injustice,” Soto said at the unveiling. “To fight for their civil rights is to fight for our own.”
Two weeks ago during the looting scattered across the city amid the George Floyd protests, there were some limited reports of racial tension between Latinos and African Americans. One Facebook posting warned African Americans to stay away from Latino neighborhoods, including Little Village. And in Back of the Yards, Berto Aguayo, the co-founder of Increase the Peace, said he witnessed people throwing objects at African Americans passing through the South Side neighborhood.
“There’s a lot of things that happened in 2020 that went wrong, but there’s a lot of things that we can change to make it go right,” said Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th), another speaker at Wednesday’s unveiling. “And that is us working together, Black and Brown.”