Wednesday, November 25, 2015

They played us like a cheap recording

Demonstrators link hands in downtown Chicago last night. Jim Young - Reuters
I'm so irritated today. Last night, while I was standing in Millennium Park with a bunch of families and grown-up Christmas goofs (like me), demonstrators were organizing south of downtown. Chicago's 102nd annual tree lighting ended at 6:05 pm and we all shuffled off to the red line or Magnificent Mile, while people marched in protest of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald sixteen times and then paying no price for the slaughter (a year of desk duty must have eaten Van Dyke's lunch, but he should have been charged with murder long ago). It is such bullshit that the city of Chicago has worked hard to cover this all up AND that the protest over it was that physically close to me last night, but I didn't know it. 

You know who else was at the 102nd annual tree lighting ceremony? Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. I was right there with Mayor Rahm and at one point I even walked close enough to have at least reminded him that his glittery tree hadn't succeeded in distracting us from what's really important. What would it have cost me to shout "Sixteen shots!" at him as I filed by on my way out of Millennium Park? I can't stand that I didn't do that.

And the reason I didn't do that is that Emmanuel's glittery tree DID succeed in distracting us from what's really important. The City of Chicago waited until two days before Thanksgiving to release the video of McDonald's murder and then they released it on the afternoon when the city was focused on food and travel. Emmanuel knew he'd be downtown and vulnerable, but the video went out just hours before the annual tree lighting ceremony, so that many of us hadn't seen it yet and weren't aware of a possible demonstration. If I had seen the video before the tree lighting, I would have been in a very different state of mind as I listened to soloists sing "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Silver Bells." 

Oh, they played us well. I feel like such a chump. I stood there with the ignorant, suburban goofballs who were dazzled by the pretty lights. I strolled out of Millennium Park to catch a bus with no idea that people were demonstrating just blocks away. Had I known, I could have waited for them. I could have shown support. But was I plugged in to Facebook or Twitter or any news source at all? No. I was using my phone only to take pictures.

Good job, City of Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. Good f#$%-ing job.

And this is where I was.

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