Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel hosted the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast Friday amid growing calls for his resignation and backlash surrounding the annual event.
The breakfast celebrating King's life is in its 30th year, but some notable black leaders will be sitting this one out, as dozens pledged to boycott in their belief that King's life and legacy has not been honored on the streets of Chicago.
"At this day and age, we don't think that a 'Kumbaya' breakfast at this moment is the time that we should be at the table with our mayor," said South Side Bishop James Dukes.
Dukes stands among many prominent leaders — including Rev. Ira Acree, Jedidiah Brown, Bishop Larry Trotter, and Father Michael Pfleger — who have spoken out against the mayor hosting this year's event after months of protests and unrest in the city stemming from the police misconduct that occurred under his watch.
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"Dr. King was an advocate for the poor,” said Rev. Ira Acree. “He was not an agent for the elite. That's why we're here today to announce that we will support the boycott that the activists and other pastors have called for."
As events kicked off at 8 a.m., protesters gathered outside the doors in their continued call for attention to police misconduct. A planned demonstration began at the Chicago Board of Trade at 6 a.m. before traveling to the breakfast at the downtown Hyatt Regency at McCormick Place.
One woman stormed into the room of the event yelling "16 shots," holding a sign before being escorted out of the room. [[365421511, C]]
More than 70 pastors who typically attend the event were reported to have not shown up Friday.
At 9 a.m. the Chicago Teachers Union held an "alternative, peoples-centered celebration of the civil rights leader" at the Local 399 Operating Engineers union hall in the city's South Loop.
The mayor’s office told NBC 5 on Wednesday that despite the scrutiny, Emanuel still "looks forward to joining faith and community leaders on Friday to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King."
The end game, for many local religious leaders, it seems, is a meeting on more neutral turf.
"We invite the mayor to the table that we create, not at the table that he creates," Acree said.