Comcast canceled six service calls around St. Sabina Church — including one to the church that hosted the funeral of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee — to keep its technicians safe during a “heightened potential for violence” in the area.
The Rev. Michael Pfleger said Comcast suddenly canceled an appointment Wednesday morning to fix Internet service at a parish center, citing violence in the area.
St. Sabina — which hosts gun buybacks and regular peace marches and is offering a $55,000 reward for information about the targeted shooting of Tyshawn on Nov. 2 — reported some trouble with Internet service at its Employment Resource Center at 7825 S. Racine, across from the church.
The center’s director called and was told a technician would be dispatched between 3 and 5 p.m., according to Pfleger. But then the cable company called right back.
“A Supervisor at Comcast just informed us that they couldn’t send their technician to repair our internet service today because our area has too much violence…..ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????? Oh Hell No!!!!!!!” Pfleger wrote on his Facebook page early Wednesday afternoon.
Reached by telephone, Pfleger told the Sun-Times, “We know Chicago is violent, we know about the Tyshawn thing, but a business is a business. . . . We’re not going to allow red-lining and racial profiling by a business.”
“They have no problem getting bills paid by this address.”
Comcast spokesman Jack Segal said that the company works with police to keep its employees safe, and once it received information from police to avoid a swath of Auburn Gresham, the company called six customers in the area to reschedule. The area was between 76th and 79th streets and from Damen to Cottage Grove avenues and from Seeley to Ashland avenues.
Segal said Comcast works in that neighborhood all the time and has in the past pulled techs from neighborhoods and towns during bad weather or other possibly dangerous conditions. He said Comcast stayed out of northwest suburban Fox Lake after a police officer was found shot, by what at the time was believed to be three men, but turned out to be a suicide disguised as a murder.
“It’s not unusual for us at all to be asked or for us to make a decision to postpone appointments that are set up for that area,” he said. “This happens all over the place all the time.”
Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said he hadn’t yet heard of any specific warning issued by police but was looking into it.
Phillip Hunter, who leads St. Sabina’s Employment Resource Center, said he was surprised by the cancellation call from the company, which had provided service for two years and had come out on service calls in the past.
“Crime happens all over,” Hunter said. “For you to say, we’re not going to send our technicians to an area because of the potential of crime happening is just crazy.”
Segal said the company offered to reschedule for early Thursday morning, but sent someone out late Wednesday after St. Sabina complained it needed its service back.