However, after organizing what has been described as an impressive march and community outreach demonstration in a Chicago neighborhood affected by the recent spike in gun violence, condemnations have turned into commendations as stressed city leaders ask for more of the Farrakhan brand of peace building.
“Anything that will cut down on the violence because of the lack of manpower, we’re glad to see. It’s people in the community getting involved to stop the violence. He’s part of the community,” Chicago Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden told the Chicago Sun-Times about the NOI outreach.
Camden’s sentiments were echoed by city alderpersons who say they look forward to future demonstrations by Farrakhan and the NOI.
“Whatever we can do to help stop violence, I’m for it—no matter who it comes from,” Alderman Walter Burnett told the paper. “I don’t agree with some of [Farrakhan’s] statements. I don’t agree with everything everybody does. But, I do agree with people who are trying to help us save lives.”
Monday night, Farrakhan led the Fruit of Islam, the NOI’s security force, out into the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago where gun violence claimed the lives of five and wounded 21 others on this Fourth of July holiday alone. The men wore suits and went door-to-door unarmed, speaking with residents in an attempt to broker peace.
“It was historic. I had residents crying—men and women that have been in the community fighting—crying to see it,” said alderwoman Latasha Thomas, according to the paper. “The minister had 500 well-dressed, well-spoken black men in suits go out on the street. They weren’t all with the minister. They spread out. We gave them some of our hardest locations in the 6th district.”
Alderwoman Leslie A. Hairston said Farrakhan also plans to replicate the march in South Shore, bringing 500 Fruit of Islam on a similar mission to that community.
Even Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had positive remarks following the march.
“Everyone has a role to play in reducing violence. We all must do our part to make sure our communities are safe,” Emanuel's communications director Sarah Hamilton said Thursday, according to the Sun-Times.
Speaking on a Chicago radio show ahead of Monday’s march, Farrakhan expressed his concern about the violence and called upon Chicago’s Black community to act swiftly in their efforts to stop gun violence.
“It is a tremendous tragedy and a scourge on our community that after we have suffered so much from so many, for so long, that we would become the worst enemies of self. This is grievous. We are filled with self-hatred and I have to say to us as parents, we took our eyes off the prize,” Farrakhan told Chicago radio host Cliff Kelly on July 6. “A slaughter is on the way if we don’t make the change now.”
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(Photo: Keevin Woods/Sun Times)