Black Pastors Boycott Rahm Emanuel’s MLK Breakfast

The annual event—for decades a venue for politicians to sit with black community leaders—became the latest flash point in the movement for the Chicago mayor’s resignation.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks during a press conference with community leaders and family members of murder victims at St. Sabina Church, Jan. 3, 2013, in Chicago. 
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks during a press conference with community leaders and family members of murder victims at St. Sabina Church, Jan. 3, 2013, in Chicago.  Scott Olson/Getty Images

Prominent black pastors boycotted the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Breakfast hosted by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Tribune reports.

A small group of the ministers, standing outside the venue, said that more than 100 pastors chose to boycott the breakfast. They were protesting Emanuel’s alleged role in an attempt to cover up the police shooting of Laquan McDonald.   

“Our problems cannot be solved with bacon and eggs,” said Grace Family Worship Center’s Bishop Edgar Mullins at an earlier press conference.

For three decades, Chicago mayors have hosted the event to honor the life of the slain civil rights leader. It also provides an opportunity for the city’s black leaders and elected officials to sit down together.

But the event, held on Friday, was a lightning rod of protest. About 20 demonstrators blocked the hotel entrance, shouting, “Shame on you.”

And inside, an unidentified woman interrupted the keynote speaker. The protester stood up and yelled, “Sixteen shots and a cover-up.” It was a reference to Police Officer Jason Van Dyke’s shooting of McDonald, a black teenager.

The Rev. Matthew Ross also shouted the same protest slogan as he was escorted out the ballroom.

“I did what I did because when I take this collar off, I look just like Laquan McDonald,” the minister said. “I believe Mayor Rahm Emanuel is like a spouse who cheated on his wife. Now he’s trying to buy us back with apologies and gifts. We’re not going to buy it. We’ve had enough.”

The original keynote speaker, author Isabel Wilkerson, did not appear at the event. Boycotters had urged her to join their protest. 

According to the Tribune, Wilkerson’s publicist released this statement: “In light of recent events, she is not in a position to take part in the event at this time.”

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