Oak Park rally condemns Trump bigotry

Peaceful protest in Oak Park arts district reacts to election results

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

More than 100 people turned out Thursday night for a candlelight march dubbed a "solidarity walk" to condemn rhetoric by President-elect Donald J. Trump, which they decried as bigoted.

Carrying signs that read "Love trumps hate" and candles, the demonstrators, who included people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, met at 905 S. Lombard Ave. in front of Buzz Café at 6:30 p.m. and made their way west down Harrison.

The event had a somber tone, a stark contrast from television images of protests that have taken place in cities across the country, some of which have become violent.

News accounts have estimated that thousands turned out for anti-Trump protests in downtown Chicago on Wednesday.

Oak Park resident Emma Arnold, 37, told demonstrators on Thursday night before the march that she has never seen people in her community so devastated, telling those who attended, "We will show love trumps hate."

The group mainly marched down Harrison Street, turned north on South Ridgeland Avenue, headed east on Van Buren Street, then back down South Lombard Avenue to the starting point, as passing vehicles honked their horns in solidarity.

Arnold said that she had never organized such an event before and did not consider herself a political activist. She originally planned to meet with a few neighbors to hold a candlelight procession through the art district, she said, but a flier posted on Facebook less than 24 hours prior to the event attracted between 100 and 200 people.

Arnold contacted the Oak Park Police Department and was given approval for the march. Several police officers were present during the march to direct traffic.

The purpose of the march, Arnold said, was to speak out against the misogynistic, bigoted and Islamophobic rhetoric from the Trump campaign. "We're saying we won't accept those ideas into our vision of America," she said. Emphasizing that she is not rejecting a peaceful transfer of power, Arnold worried that there are "dark days ahead of us."

Cameron McLauglin, 36, who helped organize the event with his wife, Nell McNamara, 35, spoke at the end of the procession, telling demonstrators, "As a white man born in America … I feel afraid. I can't imagine how people of a different race feel in this country."

He said the demonstration aimed to show that "we have love for each other."

McNamara said in a telephone interview that the event attracted enough interest to prompt creating a Facebook page titled, "OPRF It Takes a Village." She said the group aims to bring people together to "support each other and channel our energy into something that's politically productive."

"What's really important to remember is that we can't defeat hatred with hatred; we have to defeat it with love," she said, encouraging people on both sides to have an open dialogue. "I feel like we have to listen to everyone, including the people who voted for Trump; maybe that hateful rhetoric isn't what they believe in either. We have to listen to them and learn from it and hopefully come up with something better in the future."

Several people at the demonstration said they are frightened by the results of the election and reports across the nation of violence perpetrated against Muslims, those in the LGBTQ community, women and people of color.

Kelly Darin, 30, said she is not an activist and usually doesn't openly discuss politics, but "in this election I haven't been able to be quiet.

"I know many people in marginalized communities who feel attacked; it's important to support them no matter who is president," she said, adding, "It's important to let people know they are not alone."

Darin wore a safety pin on the collar of her dress and explained that wearing them was popularized in the United Kingdom, following the country's vote in June to withdraw from the European Union. News organizations have reported a spike in violence against Muslims and others following the vote that has become popularly known as Brexit.

The pins were aimed to be a signal of support and safety to those who might feel targeted for hate crimes. It also invites those who feel they are being intimidated or openly harassed to talk.

Thursday night's march was the first of two gatherings planned for Oak Park. The Suburban Unity Alliance [SUA], an organization established earlier this year, is holding a rally at noon this Saturday, Nov. 12 in Scoville Park.

"Let us come together and continue to set an example for surrounding communities that we are still united! That as Americans, we will heal and continue to work toward creating a society where we are all valued equally despite our differences!" reads a flier distributed by SUA.

Arnold said her group was not involved in organizing Saturday's event but she supports their efforts.

"We do not have any [future demonstrations] planned in the immediate future, but we're looking for opportunities to bring the community back together," she said.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Ray Simpson  

Posted: November 15th, 2016 2:36 PM

@ Franz - Careful with the tar and feather reference. I used it and it raised questions about being a racist. Actually it comes from feudal Europe and humiliation

Franz Hayek  

Posted: November 15th, 2016 12:52 PM

The DNC tried to game the system and it backfired. Sanders would have won the election for the Dems. Podesta's comments after Trumps'win was annonced about having to wait a little while longer proves that the Party wanted a to hoist the first female CinC, regardless. I would gladly vote for a woman candidate, but Hillary wasn't that woman. Can someone please answer a question: Why is okay for a woman to vote for a woman just because, but any man voting for a man just because would be tarred and feathered. Anyone?

Ray Simpson  

Posted: November 15th, 2016 12:14 AM

With Michigan Numbers Trump wins and if they would count mail-in and overseas military it won't even be close.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: November 15th, 2016 12:10 AM

Sorry guys - the less than brilliant congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D Texas) made the statement from the floor of the house exactly as I reported. She is the dumbest woman in congress! She is also the one who demanded NASA scientist give her some excuse why the couldn't send the Mars rover over to see if the flag was still where the astronauts left it.

Faith Goodwin  

Posted: November 14th, 2016 11:18 PM

@Robert: What about rigged machines, hmm? I believe Trump won in a landslide. I mean, look at his and Bernie's rallies compared to Hilary's! She only got a fraction of their numbers. Are you SO into Hillary that you need her to be the bestest candidate EVAH?! Really???!!! She is that amazing to you? Wow, just wow...

Richard Stephen  

Posted: November 14th, 2016 11:15 PM

@Robert Wozniak - I think most of figured out that Ray meant WikiLeaks but thanks never-the-less for mansplaining that to all of us in the Oak Park Nuclear-Free Zone.

Faith Goodwin  

Posted: November 14th, 2016 11:10 PM

By the way, there is a brilliant piece in the HuffPo called "Dear White People, Your Safety Pins are Embarrassing." I don't agree with 100% of the sentiments but one point I thought was key is that when White people feel guilty, they use these cheap slogans to prove that they are "one of the good ones." It's a hilarious and cringy in a good way type of read.

Robert Wozniak from Oak Park  

Posted: November 14th, 2016 11:09 PM

A few points of clarification. A majority of Americans did not vote for Trump. To the contrary, it appears that HRC will win the popular vote by a larger margin than any candidate in history who also lost the electoral college (the luck/misfortune of geographic disbursement). Also, I believe our loveable [sic] gadfly Mr Simpson meant to reference Wiki Leaks (no relation to Wikipedia).

Faith Goodwin  

Posted: November 14th, 2016 11:08 PM

Nice try, Jeff! I told you that two operatives stepped down as a result of the expose. It was all over the news so it's easy to find if you doubt me. The truth is that likely when the ACORN video came out, that excuse was used to justify the damning findings. The video is probably 100% correct. I mean, in a Project Veritas video one operative said that they've been busing illegal iimmigrants to go vote for 50 years and they're not stopping now! So you can make excuses for unethical behavior but Wikileaks already proved that the DNC is rotten to the core.

Scott Drazler  

Posted: November 14th, 2016 6:51 PM

I am a proud parent that participated in the SOLIDARITY WALK. (not a anti-trump rally) to anyone that says our children are too young and they don't understand, ask your children if they dealt with a bully. Ask them how they felt being singled out, beat up, ect. This is what We are fighting, not Trump, or the majority of the Americans that voted for him, We must stomp out bigotry, and that starts with our youth.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: November 14th, 2016 5:52 PM

@ Jeff Evens - do you find it strange that the DNC chooses not to comment? Perhaps you should send a "like" out to Sheila Jackson Lee for wanting to shut down Wikipedia for releasing all of those emails.

Jeff Evans from Oak Park  

Posted: November 14th, 2016 4:18 PM

If you want to prove some kind of conspiracy behind the protests, you'll need to do a lot better than Project Veritas (a.k.a. James O'Keefe). This guy is a complete shyster who heavily edits all his videos to the point of being completely unrepresentative of the conversations he's supposedly having. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ACORN_2009_undercover_videos_controversy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_O%27Keefe#Reception_4

Ray Simpson  

Posted: November 14th, 2016 2:53 PM

After the 2012 election Ken Trainor declared that small government conservatism was finally dead and buried. The election of 2016 sees a national repudiation of liberal progressive policy and a condemnation of the DNC and it's management. Only here in Oak Park is this foolishness still celebrated. President Trump isn't even living in the White House (a downsize for him) and the dimwitted protesters are out in force. There is credible evidence that George Soros is behind this small minded expression of disappointment. We accepted Obama and now it is conservatives turn to try to steer the ship. President Trump is a man of action not words and I hope is able to accomplish all of the goals he has set for this nation.The can will no longer be kicked down the road and our bitter medicine is about to be administered.

Faith Goodwin  

Posted: November 13th, 2016 10:35 AM

Oh and lest we forget that Hillary's people PAID thugs to start violence at Trump rallies. NOT a conspiracy--Project Veritas had two guys undercover admitting they organized it. They were tied to the DNC and one is the hubby of one of our Dem Representatives in Congress. He and the other guy had to step down because of the scandal being exposed. So you mean to tell me that creating violence, which could have led to people dying, is okay?! As I stated, these people may be well-meaning but they are very low-information. It's the typical Oprah-esque rubbish that upper-middle-class liberals engage in when they have nothing better to do...

Faith Goodwin  

Posted: November 13th, 2016 10:29 AM

I wonder how safe the people of Syria with this covert fomenting of opposing forces and NATO bombing? It's yet another resource war. So don't you effing DARE tell me about safety with this bee ess! These people may be well-meaning but they are naive and low-information and very short-sighted. Useful idiots for the Elite much?

Barbara Joan  

Posted: November 13th, 2016 7:51 AM

The USA is a Republic;! Once again, Oak Park shows how "progressive" it is, not!..."No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?" ? George Orwell, Animal Farm

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: November 13th, 2016 6:47 AM

I dont remember any one in Oak Park protesting when 6 White Police Officers were assasiinated in Dallas ??? Or any one else for that matter.

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: November 13th, 2016 6:45 AM

Agree with Paul and John. Get over it. Everybody acts like there were no issues under Obama. Racial tension is highest it has ever been with Obama leading the way! Remember the chant "YES WE CAN"? Well, no Barack, you didnt. America has spoke, move on.

Paul Cagnina  

Posted: November 12th, 2016 5:13 PM

What are the parents of Oak Park thinking? They are bringing little children to a protest they know nothing about. Polluting their little minds with hate and discrimination. Terrible parenting skills. These children shouldn't be involved with adult matters. This is a disgrace to the community of Oak Park. I'm appalled !!!

John Walsh from wooddale  

Posted: November 12th, 2016 9:59 AM

we all had a chance to vote now we must go to improve our country

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