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Ministers To Boycott MLK Breakfast With Mayor To Protest Laquan McDonald Shooting

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A group of black pastors planned to boycott the city's annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast on Friday, to protest Mayor Rahm Emanuel's handling of the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

"We do not want bacon and eggs; we want justice; we want resources, we want accountability, and we want inclusion," said Bishop James Dukes, a pastor who has been a familiar face at many protests rallies after the release of police dashboard camera video showing Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times in October 2014.

Dukes and other African American pastors have said Emanuel should resign after fighting more than a year to keep the video out of the public eye. They have questioned whether Emanuel and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez were trying to cover up the shooting to make sure they could get re-elected. Alvarez took more than a year

The ministers said they and others plan to lock arms outside the King breakfast on Friday at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place hotel to prevent people from going in.

The mayor was low-key in his reaction to the ministers' plans for a boycott. Emanuel said the annual breakfast honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. -- which started under the late Mayor Harold Washington -- isn't about him, it's about the legacy of Dr. King, and the work people in Chicago have done to promote economic and social justice.

"Obviously, certain people take certain actions, and that's okay with them. I know what we, as a city, should do in using this moment in time, and work very hard towards that effort," he said.


Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), a key ally of the mayor's who does some preaching herself, had strong words for the ministers urging a boycott of the King breakfast.

"Then you don't stand behind Martin Luther King. It don't have anything to do with Rahm Emanuel," she said.

Austin, too, said the event is about King's work during the civil rights movement.

Rev. Ira Acree said, in light of the McDonald scandal and other issues with police misconduct and the loss of public trust in the Emanuel administration, King wouldn't be welcome at the annual breakfast, and wouldn't attend either.

"Considering the conspiracy, considering the concealment of evidence, considering the cover-up, and the toxicity of the corruption of this mayor's administration; it would be a shame for us as ministers to be there, and provide for Mayor Emanuel the political cover that he would desire," he said.


Acree said he's urging any clergy member or elected official who believes in social justice to join the boycott.

"Any other time, I would welcome a chance to be at the table with the mayor of a world-class city like Chicago, but simply it's not the time. To use the mayor's words, at this particular point, he is a distraction," he said.

Dukes said he and other activists see Chicago in an uproar over conditions similar to those Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought to improve in Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.

"We have a defiant mayor who does not know the pulse of the community. We have communities in uproar. We have social services that are not being adequately distributed to our communities," he said. "In this day and age, we don't think that a Kum Ba Yah breakfast at this moment is the time that we should be at the table with our mayor."

Father Michael Pfleger is skipping the event but says he's not choosing sides.

"It's really unfair to say that those go breakfast are sellouts and those don't go are some sort of activists," Pfleger said. "A sellout or activist is determined by a life's work not coming to a particular event."

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