➔ On November 5th, Joshua Beal, 25, was in a funeral procession for his cousin. Off-duty police in civilian clothes in Mt Greenwood confronted a 17-year-old relative and waved a gun at her and others. Another off-duty cop driving by on his way to work sized up the situation and shot 13 times, killing Joshua. If the situation were reversed and white people in a traffic altercation took measures to defend themselves against Black people waving guns at them - do you think a passing cop would pull over and shoot the white person dead?
➔ Grieving family members were asked to wait in Mt Greenwood while their cars were held as part of the crime scene. Within a short time residents began to amass, not to comfort them, but to threaten them. Local residents called them "n***er," drove by brandishing baseball bats and chanting "CPD! CPD!" and "Trump! Trump!" The Revolution Club, Black Lives Matter activists, and relatives of other people killed by the police came to offer support to the family.
➔ The next day, and again on election night, a small group of Black activists and members of the Revolution Club went to Mt Greenwood to protest the police shooting and the virulently racist treatment of the family and protesters. A white mob of several hundred people shouted things like "n***er," "coon," "monkey," and "this is America, not Africa." They held signs that read, "You are Animals, #go home." Again chants of "CPD!" and "Trump!" Protesters were physically threatened repeatedly.
➔ Father Pfleger, a well-known priest, posted the following account, "Just got back from the protest in Mt. Greenwood... I have not seen so many angry White People filled with such Hate since a child in 1966 in Marquette Park [Note: when mobs of white people attacked a march led by Martin Luther King to integrate housing in Chicago].... I was called every name and cursed with every word... an area that is not only White, but heavily Catholic, and will be at church on Sunday... I am embarrassed as a Priest and a Catholic to witness what I witnessed tonight....Earlier today a man said he wanted to break my legs and drag me from a truck...."
➔ Mount Greenwood is a neighborhood that is almost 90% white and has a history of segregation and racism. It is home to many members of the Chicago Police Department who must live in the city.
3 Reasons Why You Need to Be at the Protest this Sunday
1. This is a national flashpoint in the whole fight over Black life in America. Especially in the last couple of years, people have taken to the streets demanding an end to the murder of Black people and others at the hands of police. Yet, the police keep on killing and the courts never send them to jail. Now, a white mob in a cop-heavy neighborhood has come out with baseball bats and racist epithets to send the message: get used to being killed and shut up about it, and get out of 'our' neighborhood. We must be there to send the opposite message!
2. Mt Greenwood is a major flashpoint in Trump's rising fascism. As white people threatened to break the legs of a priest(!) and send Black people back to Africa, they also chanted, "Trump! Trump! Trump!" Across the country, thousands of racist, misogynist, anti-LGBT and viciously anti-immigrant acts of hatred and violence have been reported since Trump's victory. Every single one of these attacks must be countered, but when these attacks are openly organized in a community - especially one that is so interwoven with law enforcement - it concentrates all this ugliness and such a threat and must be directly opposed and stopped NOW!
3. History has shown that you must go to where the attacks are the ugliest and the sharpest if you want to turn the tide of history! To fight Jim Crow, people had to march in Selma - right where the racist lynch mobs were most dangerous and mobilized. It wasn't enough to object from afar. In Nazi Germany, Pastor Niemöller spoke to the profound lesson of the failure to act against the sharpest attacks: "First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out--Because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me."
Will it be safe to protest? The protesters will not initiate violence. While there is risk involved, it is far more dangerous to not act - it emboldens the racists. Will this incident be a harbinger of an even uglier future across this country? Or will this be a moment when people rally their courage, stand up against this hatred, and build the strength of people across this country to wage the resistance necessary to STOP the rise of fascist America? This is not yet determined. It depends on what we do. It is up to us to fight for the future we want in the face of Trump's ascendancy. Now is a time for courage.