From community activists to men of the cloth, Chicagoans have had enough gun violence and are staging a massive protest that will effectively shut down rush hour traffic from Lakeshore Drive to Wrigley Field – a potential nightmare for fans heading to the Cubs game or the first day of Lollapalooza.
Dr. Gregory Livingston, anti-gun violence activist Tio Hardiman, and Rev. Ira Acree – the organizers of the event – have made it quite clear that 1,707 acts of gun violence in the first seven months of 2018 is unacceptable. And they punctuate those numbers by laying blame at the feet of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, calling for both to resign immediately.
Their demands have fallen on deaf ears.
Taking to the Streets
Last month, an Emanuel supported demonstration against gun violence effectively shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway on a Saturday morning, in the heart of a southside neighborhood. The protest, peaceful and successful, has cost taxpayers $323,000, with numbers still to tally from Chicago Police Department and Illinois State Police.
Father Michael Pfleger, the organizer of the Dan Ryan demonstration, worked with, and asked for, the Mayor’s blessing. But Livingston and Acree do not want Emanuel’s endorsement: They are demanding his employee badge and parking spot.
“The call of the people is ‘Resign Rahm,’” Livingston told reporters in front of City Hall. And then had to explain to the lot that when a regime change is demanded, the person being ousted is not asked for their endorsement:
“So how, then, can you back your own regime change? How do you sanction your own termination? How dumb, naive and self-hating do you think we are?”
How indeed, Mr. Mayor?
Emanuel did address reporters after a recent City Council meeting, somewhat scolding his citizens for yet another disruption in violence:
“Father Pfleger worked with the Police Department on preparations. It’s my hope that Mr. Livingston also works with the Police Department so we can ensure that if people want their voices to be heard that it be done in a way that is responsible, that there’s a message of anti-violence.”
Well, that is the plan. But they aren’t playing ball with the City anymore.
Redistribute the Pain
Livingston and Reverend Acree are taking their message, and demands, out of the mean streets of the south shore and into the tonier parts of the city. They want to “redistribute the pain” to the north side, where large crowds will be “pained” by traffic jams while going to the star-studded Lollapalooza music festival in historic Grant Park and the Cubs versus Padres game at Wrigley Field.
Regular Chicagoans across the city have begun tallying incidents of gun violence, slurring the good mayor’s name in frustration by calling them Shoot-A-Rahm-as. Protests are scheduled back to back and community activists have started to turn on their leftist mayor and administration. Even the Democrats know this Obama-era darling politician is allowing their once grand city to fall further into ruin.
Still, we hear only crickets from Emanuel’s people. It’s as if they cannot hear the battering ram against their sand castle wall.
Emanuel has repeatedly said he hasn’t decided yet whether he will endorse the protest. And organizers have reiterated, time and again, they would rather have a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
“Honestly, when the mayor endorses a protest, it’s no longer a protest,” Reverend Ira Acree said. “It becomes a parade, and we’re on serious business.”
Put the ticker tape back in the drawer, Mr. Mayor.