Local Pastor Camps out on Motel Roof to Highlight Area Violence

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Pastor Corey Brooks, of New Beginnings Church, camping out on the rooftop of the vacant Super Motel, as a statment to crime in the area, on November 22, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte


In an effort to bring attention to violence in Chicago’s Woodlawn and Englewood communities, a local pastor has decided to camp out on the roof of an abandoned motel for 21 days, or until enough funds are raised to buy the motel and transform it into a community and economic development center.

“We’re trying to raise the funds, $450,000 so that we can purchase this motel, tear it down and do something economically that will be a blessing to the community,” said Corey Brooks, pastor of New Beginnings Church, 6620 S. King Drive, during a Nov. 22 interview on top of the former Super Motel, located across the street from the church. During the rooftop interview, members of Brooks’ church – which has over 3,000 members – were using a lift to haul electric heaters and other items onto the roof to help the pastor while he lives in a tent they had set up on top of the motel.

Brooks told Residents’ Journal that the motel has been vacant for about eight months, and he wants to transform it into “an oasis for the residents of the West Woodlawn community.” Brooks called his effort “Project H.O.O.D.,” an acronym for “Helping Others Obtain Destiny.”

Church members, the media, and others on the roof of the Super Motel, and on the lift to where Pastor Corey Brooks will remain in a tent for 21 day. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

“I’m up here first of all to stand against violence,” Brooks said. “So much violence has been going on in our community, and as a church we want to do something to bring attention to it. So, what better way to bring attention to it than to do it with some shock and some awe?
“The second reason is we need economic empowerment. We need education. We need social ills to be healed.”

Brooks said he chose to be up on the roof for 21 days because that is the deadline to raise funds to purchase the former motel. During a press conference earlier in the day, Brooks displayed 10 caskets lined up in front of the church “representing the 10 teens killed in our community this past summer,” whose funerals were held there.

“We’ve seen 10 young men be buried under the age of 25 who had been murdered and gunned-down,” Brooks said. “And so it is important, it is imperative that we bring attention to all the negative stuff that is going on in our neighborhood.”

Wikipedia photo of a Glock17 9mm semi automatic pistol, similar to the one Pastor Brooks said was turned over to him after a shooting last Saturday.

Brooks added that during the recent funeral at the church of a 17-year-old boy who was murdered in the area, shooting began right outside the church door. At the end of the funeral, the pastor said he appealed to the shooters to turn in their guns to him.
“And four young men turned in their guns at the end of the funeral,” Brooks said. “One of the young men had a 9 mm Glock,” a semi-automatic pistol.

Brooks said he started the church 11 years ago with some friends and others who now belong to the church congregation, but has only been in the Woodlawn area for the past six years. The church partnered with area police and city officials and “played a major role in closing the motel” due to criminal activity there, according to the church’s press release.

New Beginnings Church, located at 6620 S. King Drive. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

“I’m thankful that God has placed us in a community like this where we can be a blessing and a help to people,” he added.
Brooks said the motel’s roof is stable enough to hold him and his tent, and said he felt assured that the police wouldn’t stop his protest.

“The cops were here today at the press conference,” he said.

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