WEST RIDGE — While people across Chicago and the country have reacted in the wake of the Laquan McDonald case — one typically unassuming pita shop in West Ridge is making its voice heard, too.
After the Nov. 24 release of the video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting 17-year-old McDonald, David Litchman, owner of Pockets sandwich shop at 7126 N. Ridge Blvd., said he made a personal choice to hang a "Black Lives Matter" banner from his store's awning in support of its movement.
"This was just a personal decision about the events that transpired, and what's been transpiring across the country," Litchman said. "The way the African-American community has been ... it seems there has been a fair amount of racism out there continuing still, so we just wanted to support that."
But shortly thereafter, Litchman said his shop began getting complaining calls and emails about the sign.
One employee, who did not want to give his name, said the store received several "racist" messages, including at least one in-person confrontation from a community member who verged on "yelling" at employees.
Litchman, who operates the franchise independently from the corporate entity, said he took the feedback from residents seriously and reluctantly removed the sign.
Though some people had complained, most passers-by didn't remark on the banner one way or the other, he said.
But quickly after he removed it, he said Pockets became "flooded and inundated" with calls and emails showing support for the sign.
"People were proud that we had done it, and asked if we would rehang it," he said. "We got inundated with very personal notes about how it this was a great thing we had done, and it was an important issue, and so forth. So I felt I wanted to continue to support the community."
After getting the recent wave of support, Litchman put the sign back.
Litchman said compared to the handful of people who'd complained, far more people were in favor of the banner, saying it reflected the values of the community.
It won't stay up forever, he said — the sign may come down after the holidays. But until then, he said he's heard his customers loud and clear, whatever view they may hold.
Litchman said he knows there will always be some who disagree, but he, too, believes the "Black Lives Matter" sign is symbolic of what he, and many of his customers, believe.
"Once they found that it came down, and the circumstances behind why it came down, they rallied behind it," he said.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: