Watch CBS News

Pfleger Wants Churches To Lead Protests Of Ferguson, NYC Police Killing Cases

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Activist priest Michael Pfleger was urging churches everywhere to take time out of services on Sunday for some civil disobedience, as a response to the second case of a grand jury failing to indict a white police officer involved in the death of an unarmed black man.

"I think it's a great opportunity to show a unity in church. The church has to be vocal in this," Pfleger said.

His call for action comes one day after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of 43-year-old Eric Garner.

The grand jury decided there was not enough evidence to charge Pantaleo, even though a witness used a cell phone camera to film the officer performing a chokehold -- which is banned by the New York Police Department -- on Garner in July, and an autopsy by the city's medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide.

That grand jury decision came little more than a week after a Missouri grand jury declined to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing 18-year-old Michael Brown in August.


Pfleger, senior pastor of Saint Sabina Church, had several printed protest signs on his desk Thursday morning, including one reading "I can't breathe" – which Garner repeatedly said after Pantaleo applied a chokehold while arresting him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes.

"The church, the synagogue, the mosque are supposed to be the conscience of a society," he said. "If we do not speak out, and if we remain silent, if we don't show our outrage with this, then I think the church is going to become irrelevant."

Pfleger said he believes the justice system, especially the grand jury system, is broken. The response across the country has reminded him of the 1960s.

"I see people of like values saying 'enough of the injustice,'" he said.

The pastor was reaching out to all religious institutions to take congregations outside on Sunday, to interrupt traffic and make a statement about the police killings in Ferguson and New York.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.