After delivering a rousing speech Sunday aimed at empowering Chicago youth, filmmaker Spike Lee responded to the spate of shootings that have now left 10 kids wounded across the city this weekend.
“This is not something that’s new,” Lee told reporters following his speech at St. Sabina in Gresham. “I think that we gotta take down the [National Rifle Association].
“We have more guns than any other country on God’s planet, and we’re all getting tired,” added Lee, whose 2015 film “Chi-Raq” delved into Chicago’s culture of gangs and violence.
Rev. Michael Pfleger, a staunch anti-violence advocate, invited Lee to speak at his church on Sunday, honoring him with an award and heralding the Academy Award winner as “the Dr. King of the film industry.”
During his speech, Lee urged the young people in attendance to pursue higher education and encouraged them to follow their creative instincts.
“You were brought to this Earth to do good things,” Lee said after meeting each youngster on hand for the service.
But as he delivered the call to action, the city was already reeling from the spate of gun violence affecting the very kids he sought to inspire.
Between Friday night and Sunday afternoon, 10 juveniles had been wounded in citywide gun violence, according to Chicago police. Three of those shootings — which injured two boys, ages 8 and 11, and two girls, ages 12 and 14 — were reportedly accidental.
In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Pfleger cast blame on the adults who allowed kids to get ahold of guns in the first place.
“How do you have a house where guns are accessible to children,” he asked. “Adults have to be held responsible.”
However, only a 15-year-old boy had been arrested by Sunday afternoon. About 1:15 p.m. the previous day, the boy was handling a gun inside an apartment building near 24th and Troy streets when it went off and struck a 14-year-old girl in the cheek, police said.
She was rushed to Stroger Hospital in fair condition, and he was later charged with felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon and reckless discharge, police said. He was expected to appear at a bond hearing Sunday in juvenile court.
Pfleger noted that communities on the South and West sides that have been ravaged by disinvestment now resemble “third world countries.” And with the national spotlight beaming on Chicago during NBA All-Star Weekend, he said the gun violence that has happened concurrently underscores the city’s divide.
“While everybody’s shouting and celebrating downtown and [at] the United Center, out here we hear gunshots, sirens and tears,” Pfleger said. “Same weekend.”