LITTLE VILLAGE — In a show of solidarity, the Little Village Chamber of Commerce unveiled four Black Lives Matter banners Wednesday morning on the historic 26th Street arch — a gateway to the predominately Latino neighborhood on the Southwest Side.
Under the terra cotta gateway, several dozen community leaders, elected officials and residents gathered in support with the Black Lives Matter movement and to offer a message of unity as part of the civil unrest that has swept the country following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
Blanca Soto, executive director Chamber of Commerce, said the Black community continues to be “confronted by injustices on a daily basis.”
“History has been not been kind to minorities in this country, which is why it is time to embrace each other in solidarity,” Soto said. “We can thrive by working together and celebrating our achievements.”
“Supporting the rights of our Black brothers and sisters is the right response to injustice. To fight for their civil rights is to fight for our own…We are here to fight for and with our neighbors,” Soto said.
The banners designed by Patricia Aguilar at Four Star Branding features five raised fists featuring “United we stand. Divided we fall” above the words “Black Lives Matter.” The banners were funded by the McCormick Foundation and installed by the SSA 25, Soto said.
Installation of the banners comes weeks after anti-Black violence erupted in some predominantly Latino communities at the start of the month.
What started with residents protecting their neighborhoods from looting spiraled into incidents of violence, with officials saying Black people were taunted and attacked in some Latino neighborhoods. Tensions rose between Black and Latino communities in Pilsen, Little Village, Lawndale and suburban Cicero.
Violence interrupters from social service organizations groups like New Life Centers, UCAN, EnLace and Chicago CRED took to the street to ease tension and end conflict in the communities.
Several marches over the last few weeks brought together hundreds of neighbors to show solidarity between the Black and Brown community.
“A threat to justice to any community is a threat to justice to every community…the future of our communities are dependent upon each other,” Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd) said Wednesday. “We live together, we eat together, we breathe together. We need to be together everyday.”
Rev. Marvin Hunter, great uncle of Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer, said it was time to continue the fight in solidarity.
“History that is not studied is doomed to repeat itself,” Hunter said.
State Sen. Celina Villanueva said the struggles facing Black and Brown communities are intertwined. Both need to stay united against white supremacist structures killing Black lives and deporting and criminalizing immigrant communities.
“We are suffering from the same thing — a lack of quality affordable housing, lack of great education in our communities, we are underemployed or unemployed,” Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th) said. “These are things that we can change.”
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