Gov. J.B. Pritzker had a message of empowerment for more than 1,000 people rallying in the south suburbs seeking police accountability and criminal justice reform.
“Here’s the truth, longstanding systems don’t shift on their own,” Pritzker said at the protest Monday evening in Matteson. “There is no justice without police accountability and reform, because there is no justice without criminal justice reform, because there is no justice without real investment in this community.”
“Real change, structural change, comes from protests paired with policy and action,” he said.
The rally and march in the name of George Floyd and others who have died as a result of police brutality were hosted by Victory Apostolic Church, 20801 Matteson Ave., and filled with inspirational music and prayers.
Pritzker told the crowd Illinois is in a “unique moment” when it could help repair broken systems. He pointed to the number of black women on stage with him that are in positions of power that will help usher in that change, such as Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
Foxx gave a passionate speech about growing up in public housing and the systemic barriers African Americans often face.
“I talked about the fact that I come from the projects because the people who come through our system, I have more in common with them than I do with many of the lawyers that work with me,” Foxx said. “And not because we aren’t as brilliant, not because we aren’t as bright, not because we don’t have the opportunity to change our world, but because our system has oppressed us for so long.”
“This is a racist system that has oppressed communities since the beginning of 1619,” she added, referencing the date that is known to mark the start of slavery in the U.S. “This is our moment.”
Stratton urged the crowd to seize the moment.
“Eight minutes and 46 seconds Officer [Derek] Chauvin had his knee on the neck of George Floyd, squeezing the life out of him as he said ‘I can’t breathe,’ ” Stratton said. “So tonight, we march for justice and love for our neighbor because we all deserve to breathe.”