Rooftop Revelations: Gov. Pritzker favors freeing minority criminals over protecting minority victims


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Upon hearing the news that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker defended a law that will abolish cash bail and potentially release thousands of prisoners, Pastor Corey Brooks wanted to share some of his thoughts with his readers. Wednesday marks the 294th day of his rooftop vigil to reduce violence by building a transformative community center that will increase the equality of opportunity for those that live on the South Side of Chicago. 

What follows has been lightly edited. We strongly encourage you to watch the accompanying video so you may hear the pastor in his own words. 

Some of you may have heard the news that thousands of prisoners will be released from jail early when Illinois becomes the first state to introduce no cash bail in January through the SAFE-T Act.

This act was proposed by the Illinois Black Caucus after the death of George Floyd, and Gov. Pritzker signed it into law. The idea here is that our city leaders feel that completely abolishing the cash bail system will allow minorities, which they assume to be impoverished, from being disproportionately impacted. That’s right, an assumption.


Thousands of prisoners could be released from jail early when Illinois becomes the first state to abolish cash bail in January.
(Chicago Police Department)

I can understand that impulse, but I think this is a grave mistake. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that eliminating the cash bail system will, one, make it harder to keep offenders off the streets, and two, it will embolden criminals to commit even more crimes, which we’re already dealing with in Chicago. 

In the city of Chicago, we’ve already had over 500 murders so far this year, over 1,500 cases of sexual assault, over 6,400 robberies, 15,000 thefts, 13,000 car thefts, and on and on.

The saddest thing is that some of our city officials are calling these numbers progress since some of them are better than last year’s numbers. But do you think a parent of a dead child cares, or a woman that was raped? No, they don’t care. 


These people who support abolishing the cash bail system like Gov. Pritzker are the very same people that support defunding the police. I just watched the video on Twitter of a naked woman carjacking a police SUV right here in Chicago, running the cop over and speeding off. Our police have become so demoralized thanks to our leaders that they will do anything to avoid from being called racist.

The city of Chicago has already had over 500 murders, over 1,500 cases of sexual assault, over 6,400 robberies, 15,000 thefts and 13,000 car thefts so far this year.

The city of Chicago has already had over 500 murders, over 1,500 cases of sexual assault, over 6,400 robberies, 15,000 thefts and 13,000 car thefts so far this year.

The governor — with his wealth and his mansions and his security details — doesn’t have to fear what we fear in my neighborhood: criminals. Most of the prisoners that come out of prison systems end up in my neighborhood. 

That is why it is a joke when these so-called leaders talk about minorities being disproportionately impacted by the cash bail system. Those minorities that they’re talking about, hate to say it, but they’re criminals, first and foremost. What about the minorities in my neighborhood who are disproportionately impacted by crime? How come Gov. Pritzker ignores that? Why do these leaders keep taking the side of criminals over the law-abiding citizens? Why do they do that?


What infuriates me the most is that I’ve worked for the last 20 years with my church and not-for-profit, Project H.O.O.D. [Helping Others Obtain Destiny], to reverse the horrible violence that keeps us paralyzed. We lost our Walgreens, our McDonald’s and many other stores right on this block to violence. The governor doesn’t care about that. 

We worked every day to reform newly released prisoners into law-abiding citizens. I’ve spent the last year of my life on the rooftop of these shipping containers trying to raise $35 million for a much-needed community center, and God has blessed us with $20 million, funds we have raised from nearly every state in America. We’ve truly been blessed. We will break ground on October the 29th, and we will build this community center as we raise the remaining funds to do so.

Pastor Corey Brooks says Illinois' new SAFE-T Act is a "grave mistake" and will embolden criminals to commit more crimes.

Pastor Corey Brooks says Illinois’ new SAFE-T Act is a “grave mistake” and will embolden criminals to commit more crimes.


Now, I know that building this community center is just the start. Our biggest challenge will be to end intergenerational poverty, dependency, and violence. It won’t be easy, and it certainly doesn’t help when the governor passes laws that release more criminals into the city streets. My community needs security, and they need it now. My community needs to be able to send their kids to our community center without fear of being shot. As a pastor, I need the calls to preside over funerals of young children who have been gunned down to end. 

We work our butts off every day, and none of that matters to Gov. Pritzker and his cronies. We are truly invisible, and our leaders don’t see the work that we put in, but we do. We’re not going to let this stop our work. Nothing will. And let me tell you this: we’ve been so blessed to have so many people from across America believe in our dreams for this community center. This was truly an American effort. Their belief in us and what we’re doing is what we’re going to use as we ride into the difficult future.

A key part of the American dream is having safety, and we need our people to have a safe place. Despite the setbacks with the governor and despite the setbacks of this law, we’re going to continue marching forward, building this community center, and building our community. I am so grateful to all of you from all across America who have made this possible.



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