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Racial tension flares in mostly white Chicago neighborhood

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Black Lives Matter activist Jedidah Brown, right, confers with Father Michael Pfleger before a march in the wake of the fatal shooting of Joshua Beal in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood of Chicago.

CHICAGO >> A largely white Chicago neighborhood that many police officers and firefighters call home took center stage this week in the city’s tensions over gun violence, race and policing as protests erupted following the fatal police shooting of a black man.

Some residents used racial slurs, revved motorcycle engines and yelled “go home” Tuesday night as protesters with the Black Lives Matter movement demanded an investigation into the death of 25-year-old Joshua Beal. It was the second confrontation in Mount Greenwood since Beal, who police say was armed, was shot Saturday in what police said was a road rage incident following a funeral.

When the latest protest erupted, as Donald Trump was being elected president, residents of the southwest Chicago neighborhood expressed the same kind of fears — often using racially charged and profanity-laced language — that the country saw voiced among the white working class audiences that clamored to Trump’s rallies in recent months.

When protesters tried to conduct a prayer, some residents shouted “CPD, CPD” in support of the Chicago Police Department.

“I think there is a concern about protecting the neighborhood. But the larger concern from some people is protecting the neighborhood from people who don’t look like them,” said John Lyons, who is white and lives in Mount Greenwood with his wife and two young daughters.

“It is a very ugly side to our neighborhood and our community,” Lyons said.

Unlike some of the largely black neighborhoods that have borne the brunt of the city’s violence that has left hundreds dead and thousands injured this year, Mount Greenwood has very little crime. A quiet community on the outer edge of Chicago, it’s a neighborhood of neat homes and small family businesses.

There have been just 14 robberies and not a single homicide in the last year in the neighborhood, according to statistics compiled by the Chicago Tribune. The police district responsible for Mount Greenwood has seen fewer than half the number of homicides this year than the district to the immediate northeast.

Over the years, Mount Greenwood has attracted residents looking for a safe atmosphere to raise their families in the city. Many are firefighters, police officers and other city employees.

That feeling of safety was shattered when an off-duty police officer fatally shot Beal, residents said. Investigators said Beal was armed with a handgun during a melee sparked by a road rage incident involving Beal and others who had just left a funeral in their car.

The incident also led authorities to arrest the dead man’s brother on allegations that he attacked a police officer, tried to disarm him and threatened to kill him.

“Who brings a gun to a funeral?” asked an incredulous Peggy Hederman, who has owned a Lindy’s Chili & Gertie’s Ice Cream franchise in the neighborhood for a quarter century.

When protesters arrived demanding an investigation and the release of any video of the shooting — a common request since the city was forced last year to release video of a white officer fatally shooting a black teenager 14 times in 2014 — residents confronted them.

“I think they just feel they had to stand up for the policemen that are in the community and serve the community,” Hederman said. “You do feel around here a connection to the police (because) they’re your neighbors.”

Ja’Mal Green, a black activist who took part in the Tuesday protest, said what unfolded that night reminded him of watching Martin Luther King Jr. marching across his television screen.

“To see them so openly be racist to our faces, to tell us to go back home to the ghetto,” he said, “felt like we were back in those ’60s videos.”

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a white Roman Catholic priest who joined Green and others at the Tuesday night protest, said he had not felt “that kind of hatred” since a protest march decades ago in Chicago in which King was struck in the head with a rock.

“A police officer said, ‘We’ve got to get you out of here. They hate you and I don’t think we can protect you,’” Pfleger said.

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  • Give it a rest already. I wasn’t aware white working class Trump supporters used racially charged and profanity laced language at rallies. You can tell the writer of this piece holds the white working class in very low regard. On the other hand Wikileaks revealed that democrat operatives paid homeless and mentally ill people to provoke Trump supporters at his rallies. I wonder if the writer has taken the time to ask him or herself why Greenwood is a quiet and law abiding neighborhood relative to the largely black neighborhoods. The violence that has left hundreds dead and thousands injured is 100% black on black. But we all know that pointing that out is an unapproved thought.

      • Courtesy of George Orwell and his novel 1984. I strongly encourage anybody who hasn’t already been lost to the totalitarian left to read it. It’s the quickest way to get inside the mind of a progressive democrat. Just have to warn you though, it’s a very dark, very angry place. The left is populated by self-loathing people who are perpetually miserable and negative and want you to be also.

    • Just because you were not “aware” of Trump supporters at Trump rallies using racially charged does not mean it hasn’t happened. All you need do is google it and you will see all kinds of racism on full display at those rallies. Pointing out that racism does not mean the writer holds working class whites in “very low regard”. Sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the racism doesn’t mean it does not exist….

  • democrat brown shirts are still trying to disrupt the nation’s return to law, order and greatness.

    trump was asked if he would accept the outcome of the presidential election.

    it should be pointed out that democrats protested bush’s win in florida and challenged the election results. it is the democrats that refuse to accept the outcome of this presidential election.

    the female felon’s spaghetti les team will be facing email investigations, selling state department influence while working both at the state department and at the female felon’s money laundering charity, and for perjury.

    • Bingo! These thugs need jobs! I can only Praise TheDonald for publicly spelling out that he wants to bring relief to the inner cities. Give Donald the time to put the work where his mouth’s at. Barrack Obama seemed not to interested of the problem in his home town of Chicago!

      • in the case of Trayvon Martin, as a President who represents “all” Americans he decided to divide America prejudging the event. You ask yourself why didn’t Barry instill calm in the early moments of the event? That’s what a True President for all Americans does! Barry should have just led a Riot down the street like Rev. Jackson would in his prime or how Al Sharpton does. Notice I don’t call these two Reverend’s, these 2 only preach racial HATE dividing the Country. I pray President elect Trump will keep his word wanting to help America’s inner cities. I don’t need anymore talk from those that don’t do the walk! Donald, do your walk of your talk, baby!

  • Protester surprised and taken aback by groups reception? Anytime, anywhere you walk into someone else’s house and start accusations and arguments against people in the house, you are going to have confrontation and maybe an ugly problem. Sometimes people leave their common sense behind when stepping off a cliff.

  • :using racially charged and profanity-laced language — that the country saw voiced among the white working class audiences that clamored to Trump’s rallies” yea there were a few idiot’s at his rally’s. but most Trump supporter ARE PEACEFUL PEOPLE.

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