Hate Has a Rally Permit

Getting Down to Business with the OPRF Chamber

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By Cathy Yen

Executive Director OPRF Chamber of Commerce

Unbelievable.  On an otherwise beautiful, glorious, summer weekend, we bear witness to atrocities and death happening only 750 miles away in Charlottesville, Virginia.  White supremacists igniting violence in the name of intolerance and hate.

Unbelievable, perhaps, to people like me maintaining good intentions but only dabbling in activism when my family's schedule permits.  Which, I suppose, begins to define white privilege, possibly even elitism, and why those actually fighting the fight and living the life get so frustrated with us.  Not so unbelievable to them.  Racism is alive and well, amidst an escalating battle between change and resistance.

This time last year, our own community dealt with reports of racially-charged interactions between servers and patrons at a local business.  Those incidents resulted in significant social media outrage, a sizable citizens march and the formation of a new nonprofit, which continues today.

At the time, some people wondered what it was all about and why the fuss.  Others found it "unbelievable" that their inequitable experiences heretofore had no visibility in a progressive town.  The march that followed was peaceful and positive.  Thankfully, there was no outside interference from groups bringing their own divisive or violent agendas to disrupt our peace.

The hateful rallies and resulting violence brought to Virginia by outsiders had me reaching for David Sokol's terrific history book, "Oak Park, The Evolution of a Village."  He writes about the American Nazi Party's parade through Oak Park in 1980.  Counter-protesters were outsiders as well.  Local residents responded by ignoring the parade, instead attending a vigil at Unity Temple.

How should we respond if they came back today?  Counter-protests? Alternative events? Should businesses agree in advance to shut down rather than have to decide whom to serve or just to be safe?  Or should businesses remain open as "safe spaces" for potential targets of whatever hate group arrives?  Are our police ready? 

While not perfect, Charlottesville is a diverse town of about 50,000 people who overwhelmingly voted for Hillary and are tackling difficult issues of history and race. Sounds familiar.

Oak Park lawn signs say "Hate Has No Home Here."  But what if Hate gets a rally permit? 


Email: cyen@oprfchamber.org Twitter: @OPRFChamber

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Reader Comments

18 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Barbara Joan  

Posted: August 16th, 2017 8:20 AM

"We won't tolerate this hate period."-That's a good thing!...Take a 360 degree look around the greater Chicago area-our country-the world; There is endless hate and intolerance and violence perpetrated against people of every race'ethnicity'gender....Those inciting civil unrest to force a coup to establish a Marxist regime are very misguided to say the least.The U.S.constitution must be protected to ensure our civil rights and liberties and freedom.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: August 16th, 2017 6:50 AM

@Ramona, here's the difference between a reasonable human being and the Trump supporters. I don't think people should riot and there shouldn't be violence at these protests on either side. I am a big Obama fan but didn't always agree with him. I had my issues with HRC. The Trump supporters read all the nonsense about him from the propaganda sites and act like this guy can do no wrong. He's a vile disgusting human being who clearly supports these neo nazis or he would have come right out and denounced them and their message. This isn't just about the one murderer. In your whole rant you still never once criticize these people. There's a big difference between one side that reacts to messages of hate and the other side that spews them. If I was at the protests and heard what they said I am not so sure I could have held back either. These people think my whole family should be dead. Would you happily let people like this stand in front of your house and do this without any reaction? I really doubt it.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: August 15th, 2017 11:45 PM

Jason...My previous post was simply a response to the first response to the article. I see now that it has since been taken down. So ONE person drove a car into a crowd of people and you are blaming ALL the protestors for the death of another demonstrator? When the riots in Ferguson broke out did you blame EVERYONE for burning down businesses and causing havoc? Do you condemn ALL muslims when they bomb a concert in England? Do you condemn all Jews for the oppression of Palestine? I don't really care what other think about me Jason. I can't control what others think about, so why care. I lose absolutely no sleep over it, and you shouldn't as well. Did you happen to see other protesting Jason, or is your only source of information CNN? ANTIFA was there as well. They were wearing communist garb. Last I checked Jason Communists have killed over 100 million in the last 100 years. Of course you won't them on mainstream media, it doesn't fit their agenda. Lastly, if a guy wants to sit down during the national anthem, so be it. He has the right to express himself and should be allowed to do so.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: August 15th, 2017 9:57 PM

Let's pretend a group of Muslims decided to have a large rally against some statue they believed was anti Islam. A group of alt right groups decided to protest. Things get heated and some fights start. Then a Muslim man runs to his car and runs over a bunch of the alt right people. Call me crazy but I don't think this page would have the same content and I sure don't think Trump's reaction would be the same.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: August 15th, 2017 9:35 PM

Millions of children had to see these horrible hate filled individuals and many are wondering how it can be that these people think of them as less than human. That's bad enough but then the President of comes out and blames the people protesting against these horrible people. The message should have been clear. We won't tolerate this hate period. So now our kids all get to see these horrible people spewing their hate and our President condoning it. Let's not forget a young woman was murdered. Where's the outrage? Let's stop pretending that people who spew this hate and those that fight against it are the same. I can't even imagine the kind of rage I would feel if I was there listening to the disgusting things these people were saying.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: August 15th, 2017 9:27 PM

"Many reports from persons actually present at the Charlottesville event, have been suppressed." Gosh, Barbara J, apparently the only people "actually there" and not taking cell phone video were those poor put-upon Neo-Nazis/Klan types with the clubs and shields.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: August 15th, 2017 6:12 PM

Are you "offended" by the hate speech" expressed by the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists, Barbara Joan? What have you heard from "George Soros' backed groups" that should be viewed as equal to the racist, homophobic and anti-Semite tirades by leaders of the KKK, Nazis and white supremacists?

Barbara Joan  

Posted: August 15th, 2017 5:11 PM

The First Amendment guarantees every citizen's right to express their opinion-this is called "free speech", not "hate speech",just because someone is offended. Many reports from persons actually present at the Charlottesville event, have been suppressed. George Soros backed groups incited violence on the streets of our nation and it has been presented as being social justice. Civil war is being orchestrated by the Deep State in order to destroy our civil rights and liberties most take for granted.. Question more while we still have the remnants of a democracy.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: August 15th, 2017 1:29 PM

I really enjoy all the Trump supporters that are up in arms over the fact that a football player won't stand for the national anthem but won't say peep about these horrible hate filled people even when they actually kill someone.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: August 15th, 2017 12:16 PM

So if the mainstream media is not to be trusted, where are we getting our news these days? At least the mainstream media is held to standards of accuracy and accountability (regardless of perceived or real bias), unlike, say Breitbart, Infowars, Trump TV, or any of the bevy of fake news sites that pop up daily...

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: August 15th, 2017 7:00 AM

Saying that "We're about positivity and inclusivity, not hate, not violence," the voice/text app Discord removed "alt-right.com" from it's service. Google has also announced it's taking action to remove alt-right.com. The lesson being that while you have a legal right to make ignorant, hateful statements, people are not legally bound to cooperate with you in doing so.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: August 15th, 2017 6:38 AM

@Romona, your response to these hateful people is to post some nonsense that has nothing to do with this incident? You do realize that these people want you out of this country also right? According to them you don't belong here and are less than a person. Someone was murdered. I really can't believe in this day and age that we aren't universally condemning these people and what happened. I am glad I don't have to really interact with some of you people.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: August 15th, 2017 12:58 AM

For those of you who do not believe Shanti, please read the link from politifact: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2016/oct/20/trump-says-clinton-and-obama-caused-violence-his-r/ Of course you won't see this on mainstream media, they were all Hillary supporters and wouldn't dare report anything that would put her in a negative light.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: August 14th, 2017 11:55 PM

@Shanti, I can't believe that your response to what happened is that you read the DNC hired protesters at some point. A woman was murdered and many people hospitalized. If you think that the problem exists with the people protesting against hate you have real issues. I am a Jew and you know what if people were spouting that hate in my face you bet I wouldn't be happy about it. How would you enjoy it if we got a bunch of people to stand outside your home and yell disgusting things about you and your family. Would you have an issue with that? Anyone who even remotely tries to defend what happened even a little bit is a bad person period.

Bridgett Baron  

Posted: August 14th, 2017 11:47 PM

Cathy, you ask good questions...I came across this article about the advice the Southern Poverty Law Center gives to colleges when the Alt-Right comes to their campuses. In a nutshell: 1) Ignore the event; 2) Ask leaders to denounce the event; (and #3 may not apply in the scenario you give).// Here is a link to the article, and within the article is a link to a 20-page report the SPLC put together on the alt-Right tand how to respond. // http://www.chronicle.com/article/An-Anti-Hate-Group-Has-This/240901/

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: August 14th, 2017 9:34 PM

"Rent-a-thugs at various protests hired by the DNC," huh Shanti. Care to back that up with proof? Like, for example, the many videos showing repeated thuggery by Trump supporters at his rallies.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: August 14th, 2017 9:30 PM

Too much Alex Jones garbage in the diet is bad for your mental health, Shanti.

Richard Stephen  

Posted: August 14th, 2017 9:10 PM

Ms. Yen: That pesky First Amendment protects hate speech, no matter how distasteful, despicable or offensive as you or any one else finds it. Even hate speech is considered free speech under our Constitution. You are free to protest it, voice your dislike or intolerance of it, ignore it, wring your hands, or put up a sign on your lawn to declare that hate has no home here or whatever, but you cannot stop it unless you abolish the First Amendment.

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