CHICAGO — Spike Lee’s film ‘Chiraq’ was at the center of a heated debate inside the Chicago City Club meeting Thursday. The debate was primarily between Father Michael Pfleger and a city alderman who wants the name of this movie changed.
Father Michael Pfleger stood in support of the film, which has been under production and filming in Chicagofor about six weeks.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has voiced opposition to the title as well as 4th Ward alderman Will Burns. In May, Burns asked the city council to deny Spike Lee’s request for a $3 million film production tax credit.
Alderman David Moore tried to deny a city permit for a block party co-hosted by Spike Lee.
Opponents feel the movie will hurt tourism and economic development on Chicago’s South and West sides and not solve the gun violence problem.
“That’s why I oppose the name of the movie,” Ald. Burns said. “Because I’m interested in long term solutions and not people who are willing to exploit our pain and our suffering for their own financial gain. … I don’t believe the public should have to invest in that.”
Father Pfleger says the movie has brought more than 3,000 jobs to Chicago and is merely shedding light on a brutal reality.
“Since January 1st this year, 205 people have been killed, and1,171 people have been shot,” Pfleger said. “Is that Spike Lee’s fault? Is that ‘Chiraq’s fault? The movie hasn’t even come out yet.”
The debate isn’t over yet. The full City Council Committee on Finance is meeting July 27th to hear opposition to “Chiraq” from major South Side community leaders.
Meanwhile, Father Pfleger, along with Spike Lee, plan to announce a “Peace Photo Contest” this week and have handed out 300 disposable cameras to kids and asked them to take pictures in their neighborhoods. Five winners will be chosen, and awarded $500 each at St. Sabina’s basketball tournament in September.