West Side churchgoers protest decisions in Ferguson and New York

By Eric Cortellessa

Hundreds of churchgoers took the streets Sunday to express their frustrations after recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City not to indict white police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men.

“We just want to stand up for justice and let people know that black lives really do matter, said protester Shardai Gossett.

The Rev. Wayne Gordon of Lawndale Community Church led the march, which began at 3860 W. Ogden Ave. and headed north. It effectively closed the street as hundreds showed up to sing and pray.

While expressing outrage over the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the protesters also conveyed hope for improved future relations between African Americans and the police.

Angela Gordon, a preschool teacher in Little Italy, has encouraged her students to work with the police. At the protest, she expressed hope that Chicago’s black community can develop healthy, longterm partnerships with law enforcement.

“I was with a little boy and he was like ‘I don’t want to work with the police,’ and I was like, ‘yes, we need to work together,” she said.

Joseph Atkins, associate pastor at Lawndale Community Church, maintained an optimistic attitude that was common among the protesters.

“I’m believing in hope,” he said. “I’m rejoicing in hope, and believing that our relationships with the African-American community with law enforcement. I’m hopeful of that, and I’m just being patient.”