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Spike Lee's 'Chiraq' Block Party Gets City Permit After Alderman Relents

 Director Spike Lee's block party Saturday at St. Sabina got the all-clear from the local alderman, who said he listened to his constituents.
Director Spike Lee's block party Saturday at St. Sabina got the all-clear from the local alderman, who said he listened to his constituents.
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DNAinfo/ Mark Konkol

AUBURN GRESHAM — Ald. David Moore (17th), who had blocked a city permit for Spike Lee's block party in a dispute over the director's choice of "Chiraq" as the title of a film he's making in Chicago, has dropped his objection to the Saturday event.

Moore signed the block party permit on Fox32's "Good Day Chicago" Friday morning. He said that he chose to wait until he had heard from the community.

"I spoke to the residents yesterday; they gave me their concerns," he said on Fox32. "Some of them strongly objected to the name, but said, 'David Moore, we want you to proceed with the block club party.' And that's why I'm here today to sign off on that."

St. Sabina Church, 1210 W. 78th Place, had plans to host the block party even if Moore didn't approve. On Thursday, the Rev. Michael Pfleger wrote on Facebook that "the block party will go on. With homicides up and shootings up, who is coming to a block party is the issue [?] Give me a break!"

A request for comment from Pleger wasn't immediately returned.

Moore remains critical of the "Chiraq" title.

"When you don't come and talk to the community, then you do it as a big party and think that it's a buy-in without talking to the people ..." he said.

Moore said he went door to door from the 7800 block to the 7900 block of South Throop Street to personally ask residents if they supported the block party.

"I was told by many of the residents that they support the party, but not the name," he said in a news release.  "Many of the residents also shared how much they appreciated me coming to them to seek their opinion."

Moore described the conversations he had with community members as "revealing and productive."

One of the things he has in common with them, he said, is the concern about the film's working title. He said everyone agrees that calling the film "Chiraq" will "paint the Englewood and Auburn Gresham communities once the film is released."

Residents also shared their concerns about future economic development, he said. The community wants to know what plans supporters of the movie have to help bring jobs to the South Side, which they see as the root of the city's gun violence, he said.

The decision to OK the permit came after residents said they wanted the party.

The 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. 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 is taking place from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.


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