Paper Tiger Honoree Leads Crusade Against Gun Violence

The Gun Violence Prevention PAC is proud to honor Father Michael Pfleger with the 2016 Paper Tiger Award. Losing his own son to gun violence, Father Mike is passionate about reducing gun violence and saving lives. Below is a glimpse at some of his work on the streets where the violence takes place every day:

CHICAGO — Outside the rectory of Saint Sabina’s, a Catholic church on Chicago’s South Side, a crowd gathers to begin their usual Friday night walk to their neighborhood’s most afflicted regions.

They are led in prayer by a man wearing a turquoise short-sleeved button down shirt instead of the traditional Roman collar. And on top of that, another t-shirt, which reads: “Our Children Have the Right to Grow Up.” …

In a year when the city of Chicago is seeing its highest number of gun fatalities on record, Pfleger’s army of parishioners and community activists are simply taking matters into their own hands.

“We’re addressing this thing,” Pfleger told NBC News. “We’re gonna be vigilant in the streets. We’re gonna occupy our blocks, occupy our neighborhoods.”

‘Living in Fear’

For more than 40 years, Pfleger — known by his parishioners as Father Mike — has served as pastor of the faith community of Saint Sabina’s, out-serving three of the last cardinals who’ve headed up the Chicago Archdiocese and surviving several suspensions from priestly ministry.

But in all of his years serving Saint Sabina’s, the largest African-American Catholic church in Chicago, Father Pfleger said this year is hands down the worst he’s ever seen violence in the city of Chicago.

“Our children live in war zones, so if they’re not processing that, it either has them living in fear or being overwhelmed or living in denial.”

The shootings in Chicago have reached such a high point that even schools are trying to figure out ways to intervene. …

Pfleger adopted three sons against the wishes of the Chicago Archdiocese. Jarvis Franklin was one of Pfleger’s sons, but was killed in gang crossfire. He was just one month shy of his 18th birthday.

The loss of Jarvis was strong enough to paralyze Pfleger. But in some way, it provided strength for him to carry on marching and even saying funeral masses in one of Chicago’s most deadliest years on record.

“I just really told God this is going to be my passion,” he said. “To try to save other lives.”

Click on video below to see Father Mike in action.

Full story at Chicago Sun Times here.

As the Lake County State’s Attorney, I am honored and humbled every day to lead the fight against crime, and to strive to ensure equal and just treatment under the law. I have been an attorney for twenty-two years – and each of those years has made me a stronger and smarter advocate for people, for ideas, and for the principles that unite us all.

I am so proud to lead an office of 140 dedicated colleagues who serve the public by prosecuting crime, advocating for victims, and planning crime prevention programs. I am also proud to work with hundreds of Lake County police officers on a daily basis to connect with every community and to develop comprehensive, holistic plans to respond to the mental health and economic crisis that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic.

On one particular day, July 4, 2022, I was saddened, inspired, and motivated by the bravery of so many people. We will always stand with the victims and honor the police and other first responders who ran toward the danger. Just as so many heroes that day thought only of themselves, I also witnessed the prosecutors in my office answer the call to serve survivors and their community – even on one of its darkest days.

Every moment that I have been your legal representative, I have worked tirelessly to oversee prosecutions and to implement policies that make my family and my neighbors safer in the short term and in the long term. That is the job of the State’s Attorney: to prosecute, to innovate, and to strategically plan.

I was raised in a small town. My parents are teachers, and from them, I learned that everyone must be treated equally and that America’s sacred mission is to provide a political, economic, and legal system that allows anyone to prosper regardless of the circumstances of their birth. After graduating from Knox College and the University of Chicago Law School, I spent two years at a first-rate civil law firm in Chicago where I learned that hard work and attention to detail on every case mean the difference between success and failure.

With my wonderful wife Stephanie, I am raising my two sons, Sam and Teddy, in Lake County. Nothing is more important to me than my family’s safety and I bring that passion and determination to protect all families with me to work every day.

I joined the Lake County Public Defender’s Office in 2003 and started my own law firm in 2009. From 2003 until 2020, I watched the Lake County legal system fail to prioritize violent crime, prevent wrongful prosecutions, or address racial disparities.

So, in 2019, I decided to run for State’s Attorney so that I could serve our community by improving a local legal system that cared more about covering up its mistakes and biases than uncovering new and innovative ways to help people.

I won the 2020 election, and became the first Democrat to hold this position in 40 years. Bringing in a new party wasn’t as important as ending 40 years of one mindset that had forgotten the people and that had failed to act urgently to develop new strategic plans to prevent crime while also ensuring that each prosecution is smart, moral, and just.

We have followed through on our promises. We have built the first-ever violent crimes unit, increased prosecutors in our domestic violence division, and vastly upgraded our cyber lab. Now, we have top-notch software and personnel to finally keep up with those who would exploit others.

We have been awarded a large federal grant to bring the first ever Human Trafficking Task Force to Lake County. We have deepened our investment in people by bringing in more victim specialists and raising the salaries of many of our prosecutors.

But the work goes on. We must expand our prevention efforts that are starting with the Gun Violence Prevention Initiative launched in 2022. And we know that the opioid crisis touches thousands of lives throughout this country.

I am proud to serve on the Executive Board of the Lake County Opioid Initiative which has been working tirelessly since its founding in 2012 to reverse a devastating trend of increased overdoses. In 2022, our office was part of a national settlement against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

As an attorney of 22 years, I have committed my life to helping people, and I have conducted over 70 jury trials in Lake County, and handled appeals that have culminated in over 20 oral arguments before the appellate court and Supreme Court of Illinois.

I see my time in this office as the next phase of helping a community that I love and where I have chosen to raise my family. In my first term, we have made Lake County safer and fairer through just prosecutions, constitutional policing, and innovative crime prevention policies.