Please read the excellent comment to my Wednesday post on this topic. Reader Dan Miller provides an excellent report on an organized protest that disrupted the second half of Monday’s Neighborhood Watch meeting.
I don’t understand protests like this. CAPS called an open meeting, inviting all members of the community to attend and learn about the program. The alderman included the meeting notice in her newsletter. And the community responded: A diverse group of residents showed up. It’s true that the majority appeared to be white, but this was not by design or intent. Neither the neighbors nor CAPS can be held accountable for the failure of other ethnicities to appear in larger numbers.
It would be hard not have a white majority at a community meeting in the 50th Ward. According to the U.S. Census, 62% of Zip Code 60645 is white; Latinos are 17% of this Zip’s population, with black residents just under 15%, and Asians 5.5%; 14% of this area is foreign-born. The numbers for Zip Code 60659 are almost identical. There could be lots of reasons for nonattendance: work, family responsibilities, inability to understand English–as well as simply being unaware of the meeting because of any of the above.
Since the protest appeared to be planned, I suspect it would have gone ahead regardless of which groups were easily identifiable in the audience. There was a similar protest down Devon Avenue late on either Saturday or Sunday afternoon, with loud music and complaints about racism and xenophobia on the handout protestors were distributing. The protest lasted about 20 minutes. Sometimes these protests are more about getting noticed, i.e., about the protestors themselves, rather than anything else. I doubt if we’ve seen the last of them, though.
Many years ago I took part in a similar community watch program in Rogers Park, called Walk Under the Stars. If anyone at that time felt spied on, I never heard about it. If anyone felt that neighbors working with the police to stop criminal activity was a bad thing, they never said so at any community meeting I attended. If anyone now wants to protest such activities by putting put a sign in her window that reads “We DON’T call police,” she’s welcome to do so.
She can call 911 after a crime occurs, rather than blasting Neighborhood Watch for trying to prevent it.