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Spike Lee's Block Party an 'Attempt To Buy Community's Support': Alderman

By Andrea V. Watson | June 10, 2015 1:46pm | Updated on June 10, 2015 2:57pm
 Spike Lee appears at a press conference with families of victims of Chicago violence.
Spike Lee appears at a press conference with families of victims of Chicago violence.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Watson

AUBURN GRESHAM — Spike Lee's block party has been blocked by an alderman who criticized it as "another veiled attempt to buy the community's support."

Ald. David Moore (17th) issued a statement Wednesday saying he had denied a permit for a party that Lee had planned near St. Sabina Catholic Church this weekend to celebrate the filming of his movie, reportedly called "Chiraq."

In the statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Moore said he applauded "the fact that [Lee] wants to bring national attention to senseless gun violence taking place in the city's black communities."

But he took issue with the working title of the film.

"What I object to is the branding of these communities to the rest of the world who will never know anything about the real people who live in Englewood and Auburn Gresham," Moore said. "All they will ever know is the name Chiraq and the overreaching association with the war-torn nation of Iraq."

Moore said he thought the branding will make it harder to encourage economic development in the neighborhood: "How can we expect companies and businesses to invest in a community known as 'Chiraq.'"

The alderman also criticized the party as an attempt to get residents to support the film.

"Although it was billed as a way to give back to the community, I did not see how the long-term impact would be beneficial," he said. In fact, it seemed like another veiled attempt to buy the community's support.'"

Lee is filming "Chiraq" in Chicago this summer. He defended the movie at a news conference at St Sabina, which has held casting calls for the film, earlier this year.

A block party originally was scheduled for Memorial Day on Throop Street between 78th and 79th streets. Music, activities for children and raffles were planned, and Lee was expected to attend.

But notice went out a few days before the event that the party was being postponed until a later date due to the weather forecast.

The party was rescheduled for Saturday, St. Sabina Rev. Michael Pfleger told the Sun-Times, which first reported Moore's move to deny the permit. Pfleger said he would hold the party even without a city permit, noting that his church owns one side of the block where the party was going to take place from 2-8 p.m.

Moore said he was dissappointed to hear the party might take place without a permit, saying it gives a bad example to kids and opens the door for others to skirt the rules.

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