Saturday, July 9, 2016

EXTRA: Could Taste of Chicago shutdown create moment in the sun for police-motivated protests?

It is one of those events that has taken on a certain aura in Chicago history – the Rev. Jesse Jackson managed to impose a boycott over the now-defunct ChicagoFest.
Will Saturday crowds be on the decline due to proposed shutdown?
It was back in the 1982 version when Jackson got black activists to picket the event held at Navy Pier, and several entertainers cancelled out of a sense of solidarity – including Stevie Wonder.

I CAN’T HELP but think that somebody thinks they can pull off a repeat a third of a century later with the Shutdown they’re hoping to accomplish on Saturday at the Taste of Chicago being held in Grant Park.

This event isn’t quite as adventurous, activists are merely calling for people not to go and stuff their faces with overpriced food for a four-hour time period in the afternoon. The rest of the five-day event that runs through Sunday night is fair game for people to attend.

But it seems all of the police violence being inflicted upon individuals of not quite a pure Caucasian persuasion has Chicago-area people feeling the need to do something.

And it’s not just the shooting death of Laquan McDonald that has them angered. This particular boycott, or call for one, was motivated by the activities of this week in which two separate cities saw moments when police killed black men and there was the incident where five Dallas police officers are now dead.

THAT’S A LOT of bloodshed, and I’m going to be curious to see just how many people actually bother to show up. Or perhaps I should say don’t bother to show up, since this is a call for a boycott.

I suppose that since I have no intention of going to Taste of Chicago on Saturday, I could be lame and claim I’m doing it in solidarity. Although the plans I have for the day have been in place for so long I have to say my absence has nothing to do with expressing my view about police violence.

This is an issue that is exploding across the nation. It is NOT a locally-based problem, which is part of the reason why I have had problems placing blame on Chicago political people – including Rahm Emanuel – for what happened to McDonald.

I don’t see that we have any worse a situation in Chicago than any other city does. I’d also argue that anybody who tries to dump blame on Chicago is merely trying to detract from the seriousness of the situation in their home city.

WE’LL SEE LATER Saturday if there’s any notable lack of people in Grant Park. I suspect there won’t be.

For Taste of Chicago is such a touristy event (I haven’t gone to it in years, and don’t think I’ve missed a thing as a result) that I suspect many of those feeling compelled to gnaw on giant turkey legs or wolf down pizza slices will be out-of-towners who didn’t see the “Taste of Chicago Shutdown” page on Facebook – which is how I learned of the attempt to express outrage.

For all I know, they may not have cared if they had been told. They want that turkey leg.

Personally, if I really feel compelled to have a cheezborger (yes, the Billy Goat Tavern is among the restaurants serving food this weekend), I can get one any day of the year. It’s not a weekend-only edible treat.


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