clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pfleger calls for increased witness protections and anonymity in murder cases

“We have to do something more than just taking away days off from police officers, who are already stressed out in this city,” Pfleger said Tuesday as he demanded a number of reforms to stem violence.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, senior pastor of St. Sabina Church, speaks during a news conference in the gym of St. Sabina Sabina Academy in the Gresham neighborhood,
The Rev. Michael Pfleger urged Chicago and Cook County to make several changes to tamp down violence.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The Rev. Michael Pfleger on Tuesday called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to make several changes to combat violent crime.

Pfleger called for residents who are scared to testify in gun cases to be able to do so anonymously. He also called for increased protections for such witnesses and for the Chicago Housing Authority to allow witnesses the opportunity to relocate by allowing them to use vouchers in other cities.

He also called for an increase in the number of Chicago Police Department detectives to help solve murders.

Pfleger emphasized his sense of urgency by pointing out that Cook County last weekend surpassed 1,000 homicides for the first time since 1994, and that the vast majority of those killed were Black people.

Pfleger, the pastor of St. Sabina parish in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, spoke in the gym next to his church. The gym hosts basketball games that aim to give gang members a way to peacefully come together.

Pfleger said he’d spoken with Foxx about his demands, and she assured him that her staff would “look into it.”

He also said that he has “consistently requested to meet with the mayor” without success.

Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for Foxx, said Foxx “recognizes that creating trust in the justice system is key to preventing crime and creating an environment where witnesses feel comfortable working with law enforcement.”

The Sixth Amendment allows a defendant a constitutional right to confront a witness testifying against them.

A spokesman for Lightfoot didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Pfleger was flanked by about two dozen people who’d lost loved ones to violence. They chanted “Solve our cases!”

“We have to do something more than just taking away days off from police officers, who are already stressed out in this city,” Pfleger said.

Pfleger said the city’s effort to catch killers is not equal. He pointed to the recent shooting death of University of Chicago graduate Shaoxiong “Dennis” Zheng, which quickly resulted in charges being brought against an alleged shooter and visits from Lightfoot and police Supt. David Brown to discuss safety strategies at the school’s Hyde Park campus.

“We just want this to be the norm for all homicides in Chicago, not the exception,” Pfleger said.