‘Chiraq’ director Spike Lee charms the crowd at South Side block party

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Spike Lee — in Chicago shooting “Chiraq” —posed for lots of photos Saturday at St. Sabina Catholic Church’s annual block party. Here, he poses with Takneia Sterling, 3-week-old Jimmie Wheeler Jr., and Jimmie Wheeler Sr. | Brian Jackson /For the Sun-Times

Hundreds of people gathered Saturday on South Throop Street in Auburn-Gresham to dance, eat and catch a glimpse of — and maybe take a photo with — filmmaker Spike Lee and actors starring in“Chiraq,” the movie he’s filming centering on Chicago’s violence.

Lee spent most of his time at the annual block party hosted in front of St. Sabina Catholic Church in a cordoned-off area taking photos with fans who stood in line to meet him.

At one point, the director took a walk around, posing for pictures and talking with a man who had a friend who was shot to death recently.

Lee, whose movie title has taken hits from a host of politicians in Chicago, didn’t speak with reporters but told the crowd, “Let’s keep the peace.”

The St. Sabina block party took place after Ald. David Moore (17th) at first said he wouldn’t approve a permit for it to happen because it was co-sponsored by Lee and the cast of the movie. But Moore, among the most outspoken critics of the “Chiraq” title, reversed course Friday.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, senior pastor of St. Sabina, and others attending Saturday’s block party said they didn’t see the alderman there.

Moore didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Pfleger pointed to kids jumping rope and people dancing and eating and said there was no reason for Moore to have tried to keep the event from happening.

Pfleger said people incensed about the title of the movie should “get over it.”

Luzviminda Calo agreed.

“I believe that you should not hide the truth,” said Calo, 56, who lives across the street from the church and hopes the movie might attract attention that helps bring change. “People will pay attention.”

John Cusack and Wesley Snipes were among the actors who showed up Saturday, taking pictures and talking with people.

But Lee seemed to be the big draw. Darin Minor, 46, of Roseland, took a picture with the director and told him: “Finish the movie.”

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