Opinion/Editorial >

Diversity is Our Strength and Our Protection

Published January 14, 2021

Justin Kerr portrait November2020Justin Kerr is the publisher of the McKinley Park News.One of the many reasons to love the McKinley Park neighborhood of Chicago is the natural protection afforded against hatred and bigotry by living in a multicultural community. As McKinley Park is a “majority-minority” area, with over 50 percent Latino residents and a burgeoning Asian-American population, overt hatred dares not openly show its face here, much less support for traitor Donald Trump.

Still, though, racist and treasonous sentiment may fester in our wonderful neighborhood, even though it seems to be on the run here as in the rest of the country, as it should be. We are but a couple generations away from white folks being a minority, inevitable demographics joined with hopeful signs like waning attendance at circuses of hatred such as white nationalist Christian churches. However, I’ve still noted Trump-style bigotry, treason and tolerance of sedition here in McKinley Park and fear the different types of harm it brings to our neighborhood.

Institutional Predecessors

I recall participating in the neighborhood’s first “On the Table” grant discussion close to a decade ago. I, the host and other panelists were gobsmacked to hear the husband in an older couple rant about how great McKinley Park used to be, “until the Mexicans moved in.”

This sentiment lined right up with the disastrous 2004 down-zoning of 35th Street by then-11th Ward Alderman James Balcer, a move allegedly supported by racist white residents that resulted in over a decade of vacant properties and urban decay in what should be a bustling, walkable commercial stretch. Institutional racism – the pernicious, quiet cousin of Trump’s overt racist hatred – devastates the economies of communities like McKinley Park.

Local Civics

Extremely distressing has been the past defacto support for Trump and his harmful policies as voiced in the Brighton Park-McKinley Park Life newspaper by an officer of the McKinley Park Civic Association. Our local civic leaders should be standing up for the United States, the rule of law and our right to live in a peaceful, pluralistic society. They should condemn the seditious, criminal politicians they previously stood behind.

Indeed, the McKinley Park Civic Association should consider expanding its role beyond that of a clubhouse for the neighborhood’s rapidly decaying elderly, as our fraught times demand strong civic involvement and leadership. In the decade-plus I’ve been attending association meetings, I’ve yet to see a leadership election or concerted membership outreach. This organization has brought tremendous good to the neighborhood in the past and could do so again.

A Black-And-Blue Flag

Creepy, subtle signifiers of support for Trump-style violence, racism and oppression occasionally pop up here in McKinley Park. The right-leaning administrators of some neighborhood Facebook groups have tolerated pro-Trump sentiment in the past, and one would hope they’d fully disown themselves from previous association with or support for this traitorous criminal.

Of course, our neighborhood must also suffer the occasional “blue lives matter” flag, which at this point is not a signifier of support for police, but a white power symbol denoting support for police oppression through violence. It’s always been an abominable desecration of the good old Red, White and Blue that no patriot would display. There’s a reason why racists have co-opted this flag of black and blue: these are the colors of bruises left by police truncheons.

Police Trump Terror

Deeply terrifying is the Trump support noted and currently tolerated within the Chicago Police Department, aptly personified by the sedition and treasonous support of violent government overthrow by John Catanzara, the head of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police union (FOP). The fact that he remains a police officer and head of the union further ravages police-community relations, already so deeply damaged by the ongoing bad-faith actions of the FOP and the billion-dollar price tag of Chicago’s police abuse lawsuit settlements.

However, I was recently encouraged to learn that the police union allows retired officers to vote for leadership, that Catanzara was narrowly elected, and that he relies on much of his support from racist retirees.

While living in and reporting on McKinley Park, I have never encountered anything but highly professional, appropriate, responsive and caring behavior from our 9th District police officers. I cannot imagine that any would dishonor themselves and the department — much less endanger the community and their fellow officers — by breaking their oaths and standing with the criminal traitors who are actively and openly engaging in violent overthrow of our government.

Indeed, it’s law-abiding cops to whom we will turn to protect us from the violence of Trump and his followers, asking officers to put their lives on the line against killers who have already attacked and slain police as part of their violent insurrection. The terrible and inaccurate “defund the police” slogan, a phrase useful for protest but not for progress, has little standing when our communities need protection from violent terrorists, even though significant reform at every level of policing is still clearly needed.

A Clear and Present Danger

Although unsuccessful so far, Trump’s and his supporters’ ongoing attempts to violently and criminally overthrow our democratically elected government is a clear and present danger to all of us, not only because criminal insurrection must be extinguished before it grows, but also because Trump supporters are now openly attacking citizens and officials, willing to kill for Trump, as he has asked them to do.

It will only take a single unhinged Trump supporter to kill dozens of our neighborhood’s families, whether through easily obtained firearms and ammunition, deadly bombs, or other tools of terrorists. Violent attacks like this are exactly what are now being planned and promoted online by Trump supporters, with Trump’s stated and complicit support.

Consequences of Treason

Here in McKinley Park, I would rather live with a house full of Latin Counts on one side of me and a house full of Satan’s Disciples on the other than a single Trump supporter in the entire neighborhood, for criminal street gang members have more honor and present less danger than a hate-filled Trump terrorist.

Any business or organization that tolerates Trump support not only directly endangers its employees and customers, it opens itself up to massive liability by knowingly providing harbor to criminal sedition and likely violence. Any enterprise that provides direct support to Trump insurrectionists or the criminal Trump organization should have its corporate charter revoked and its officers and board of directors arrested, investigated and prosecuted for material support of terrorism.

Although I am a non-violent individual who believes in and follows the rule of law, were the methods of Trump’s supporters applied to themselves, they would be burned alive in their homes. Despite the horrors of war, I am proud of my grandfather’s and my great-uncle’s service in World War II and the staining of my ancestors' hands with the blood of Nazis, who pursued the same violent path of racism, oppression and betrayal that Trump supporters now proudly march down.

Expunge Trump

I believe that I and other good Americans vastly outnumber these rapidly fading traitors and weekend cosplay bigots, and were we to need to directly protect ourselves and our country, we would do so successfully and decisively.

As it stands, Trump support must be expunged from the McKinley Park neighborhood and our broader society. Those who encounter Trump support, but don’t take action against it, are complicit in the harm that their silence enables. Those who ask for understanding or sympathy for Trump supporters are, literally, terrorist sympathizers. Those who remain faithful to Trump are dangerous traitors to the United States and a direct threat to the McKinley Park neighborhood of Chicago.

very well said! I truly hope that most of the people in this neighborhood agree with your opinion. if that is the case there is every chance our mckinley park neighborhood will be a fine one to live in. I've lived here 7 years now, and it seems to me to be a wonderful, family orientated neighborhood where very comfortable neighborly co-existence is more the norm than not. I can only hope other neighborhoods follow suit. thank you for your article.

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