CHICAGO - A loud and passionate group gathered Thursday outside the Archdiocese of Chicago offices, demanding they get their pastor back.
"Every day that Father Michael Pfleger is away from the church and away from the community is a bad day for Chicago," said Andrew M. Stroth, who organized the rally and represents The Soul Children of Chicago Choir.
The St. Sabina pastor was removed from the ministry last month, after a man said Pfleger abused him back in the 1980s as The Soul Children of Chicago Choir rehearsed at St. Sabina.
On Thursday, some alums of that choir said the abuse was not possible at closely controlled practices.
"We were packed with chaperons and parents. We could not leave to go to the bathroom without raising our hand. There was always a parent there asking ‘where are you going?’" said Sam Williams, a choir alum and Saint Sabina parishioner.
Pfleger was accused of similar accusations two years ago. The Archdiocese Independent Review Board eventually concluded there was "insufficient reason to suspect Pfleger is guilty of the allegations."
"Father Mike has been supporting Black people and other people throughout the country for years, and a lot of people don't like what he's doing because he's serving us," said Stroth.
The attorney for the accusers says allegations made at Thursday's rally were meant to interfere with the investigation and intimidate and silence alleged victims.
Meanwhile, parishioners say services at the South Side church are in jeopardy as fundraising takes a dive.
"We typically do a coat drive or coat give away every year. We've lost over $40,000 for that and that alone," said Cory Williams, Saint Sabina Parishioner.
Pfleger's supporters are asking that the Archdiocese reinstate him at a review board meeting on Saturday.
"If there's violence, who is there? Father Mike. If there's a mother in need, who is there? Father Mike. If someone needs to be close, who's there? Father Mike? So we're asking today for the Archdiocese to do what they need to do, which is to restore and reinstate Michael Pfleger," Stroth said.
Pfleger has denied these recent accusations.
In a statement, the Archdiocese says it, "does not comment on the board’s activities as the Independent Review Board is independent. The archdiocese takes every allegation seriously and a thorough and impartial process serves everyone’s interest."