The founder of Ex-Cons For Community & Social Change (ECCSC)the group who reportedly caused a March 28 pro-trans rally/press conference in the Loop to end earlytold Windy City Times the reasons his organization became involved in the event.
During the phone conversation, a passionate Tyrone Muhammad said, "Our issue is violence, period. It's not that I say, 'Only ex-cons got killed so I only stand with ex-cons. I was there to convey to our brothers and sisters that ex-cons that ECCSC fights violence across the city. All I'm [asking] is 'Why make an agenda about sexual orientation when violence against anyone is wrong?' "
He added, "If you're going to have a bigger problem, then you link up with everybody. I didn't see the LGBTQ community at those hospitals when those tens of babies were killedand nothing's more important to me than women and children, period. Kids are being killed and the LGBTQ community wants us to stand with them.
"If the LGBTQ community wants us to stand with them about people being killed because of their sexual orientation [and gender identity], I expect them to have the same energy and zeal when it comes to having a conference about death in this city.
"Unfortunately, it got to a point that we spoke and a couple of the [speakers] perceived us as being disruptive and tried to stop us from speaking. Someone said, 'We stand against violence against everyone,' and I said, 'You absolutely don't.' Quite naturally, I'm not going to accept disrespect from anyone. I get disrespected all the time, but I handle it differently. That speaker tried to get us to get involved, but then other people stepped in and broke it up. … We maintained our composure."
But Muhammad also said that everyone is in the same boat, which should involve LGBTQ groups doing more than preaching to the choir: "We actually have LGBTQ members in our organization who fight against inequities as well. … Of course, ECCSC condemns violence against the LGBTQ community; that population is vulnerable. But when people get heated and things go crazy [referring to the March 28 press conference], the message gets lost and all types of assertions get thrown around.
"You need to do more than just invite LGBTQ organizations to get the message across. You get measures passed by not just inviting your own community. If [straight] people hadn't passed bills, there would be no marriage equality."
He then contended that "there's no class of people more discriminated against than ex-cons, not even the LGBTQ community. But the LGBTQ community won't even stand with us to stand against the injustices that formerly incarcerated peoplewho have paid their debt to societydeal with."
Muhammad then said, "And you know what I hear when I talk with the LGBTQ community? 'Tyrone, we have issues with our own community. … The LGBTQ community is not together within our own community, so you're absolutely right.'"
He concluded, "It's about fighting for the rights of all citizens. We probably stopped about 300 shootings in the last two years; I have to stop violence against everyone, not just the LGBTQ people. … What do you think it would look like if 1.5 million ex-cons stood with the queer community?"