Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, June 10, 2015
The campaign to pressure movie director Spike Lee to drop the name “Chiraq” from his upcoming move on black-on-black violence is intensifying. A rookie aldermen is playing hardball.
Newly elected Ald. David Moore (17th) is refusing to grant a city permit required to close the street for Saturday’s annual summer block party outside St. Sabina’s Catholic Church in Auburn-Gresham for one reason: the party is co-sponsored by Spike Lee and the cast of “Chiraq.”
“He would not sign the permit if Spike Lee had anything to do with it. He said his residents have a problem with the name of the movie,” said Rev. Michael Pfleger, the outspoken pastor of St. Sabina’s who is cooperating with Lee on the Chicago-based movie.
“He was told we would have signatures we’d get from people in the neighborhood showing they’re in support of the movie. He would not respond. He’s just doing it because he has a problem with Spike Lee and the movie.”
Moore said he denied the permit because of the “economic impact” the title “Chiraq” would have on his impoverished and job-starved ward.
“We already get excuses from people who come into our community saying why they’re not building. I don’t want this to be another excuse,” Moore said.
“Mothers who have lost their children spoke with me. They had great reservations about this title. Signing of the permit has to go through the aldermen.”
Pfleger, who backed Glenda Franklin in the race for 17th Ward alderman, said he’s not about to let a rookie alderman overstepping his bounds spoil the party for Auburn-Gresham residents and their children.
The block party between 78th and 79th Streets on Throop will go on–from 2 pm. to 8 p.m. on Saturday–with or without a permit, he said.
The pastor noted that the church owns “one whole side” of the block and that residents on the other side are “all in favor” of the block party.
Before filming the movie in Chicago, Lee visited St. Sabina and interviewed school principals, parents who have lost children to gun violence and members of “Brothers from the Blocks.”
More recently, Pfleger hosted a news conference in which Lee urged Chicagoans to see the movie first before jumping to the conclusion that it will malign Chicago and undermine the city’s attempts to attract businesses and tourism.
“They are going to look stupid and be on the wrong side of history,” Lee said of the critics, who have included Mayor Rahm Emanuel.