March for Our Rights
Reverend Michael Pfleger received virtually all the media attention today. Would he and community members demanding an end to gun violence on Chicago's South and West sides defy the police by marching onto the Dan Ryan Expressway to shut it down? The police had been threatening arrests for weeks and they also warned that such a march would divert police resources from protecting the communities that are plagued by gun violence. In the end, Pfleger won out, shutting down the Dan Ryan without any arrests. According to the Chicago Tribune, thousands showed up for the march.
Meanwhile, at Chicago's showcase Millennium Park--the park where the well-to-do and tourists feel safe and secure--two to three dozen Second Amendment supporters and advocates held their own demonstration titled March for Our Rights. The police presence was spotty at best, as were the onlookers. The members of the media, however, were out, with three local television stations figuratively rolling tape. According to the Washington Post, at least nine demonstrations took place under the same monicker, with the crowds smaller than expected.
According to one report on the web, as well as the group's Facebook page, the rally was originally scheduled to be on Millennium Park's Great Lawn, which is where I first saw the demonstrators gathered (well, on the sidewalk in back of the Great Lawn). Apparently the group lacked the necessary permit, and was redirected to the northwest corner of the park.
The exercise modeled the exercise on the March for Our Lives movement, which was created by some of the survivors from the massacre earlier this year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In Chicago, most of the speakers were teenagers and possibly Twenty-somethings. We also heard from Rhonda Ezell of Chicago Guns Matter, who was the lead plaintiff in a 2015 lawsuit challenging the City's restrictions on gun ranges. The Seventh Circuit struck down the restrictions in 2017.
The demonstration was led by Anthony Bartosiewicz, a well-spoken 16-year-old. His mother, who had helped him organize the demonstration, was in the small crowd. Today her task was to hand out guidelines for the discussion Bartosiewicz hoped would transpire after the formal remarks from the eight or nine speakers. The idea, which was a good one, was to have civil discourse between members of the group and those who disagreed with them. There were no takers.
The substance of the remarks followed a predictable path in this age of deep division. We heard scattered derogatory references to liberals, David Hogg, one of the March for Our Lives leaders, and the Fake media. We also heard one reference to John Locke's Second Treatise on Government. Ironically the level of generality in Locke's Second Treatise can be used by both liberals and conservatives to support their positions.
Cutting through the youthful looks, I found much of the discussion arrogant and ill-informed. One of the speakers asked who in the audience was a veteran and who was an American, as if those who disagree with this speaker are not patriots or Americans. As always, I am suspicious of the reference to veterans, which often is just code language spouted by phony patriots. Why is a veteran's opinion more valid than anyone else's in this country? There is nothing in the First Amendment that draws that distinction.
I found two speakers who indicated they were immigrants to be even more arrogant. One juxtaposed those who receive food stamps with those who work hard and serve in the military. Once again, the apparent inference is that certain people's opinions carry more weight than others.
If I recall correctly, one of the speakers claimed that knives caused more injury and death in the United States than guns. The FBI's annual crime statistics clearly contradict this assertion. According the Seattle Times, members of the Conservative movement cherry-pick the FBI statistics, focusing on rifles rather than guns, which include both rifles and handguns.
I also found the cute reference to "Tide pod eating" teens as the ones making gun control policy a non-sequitur. Yes, there was a recent fad where dumb teenagers ate Tide pods, but those teenagers are not necessarily the ones who are advocating for gun control laws. The speaker offered no proof that any of the March for Our Lives leaders ate Tide pods. Assuming arguendo that some of those students did partake, then why are the students who make up March for Our Rights modeling their movement after the March for Our Lives one? The supposed pod eaters must be doing something right.
With all of this concern about pods, the rally participants, particularly the teenagers, might want to watch the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which many view as a parable about the McCarthy Era, a dark time in American history where a tyrannical Senator trampled on people's civil rights while many stood in silence.
Contrary to the belief espoused by several of the speakers in Millennium Park, most on the gun control side are not advocating the confiscation of all guns, but rather are advocating reasonable regulation. One of the speakers joined President Trump in advocating for better mental health treatment as the solution for gun violence. No doubt better treatment options would help, but we have yet to see President Trump get behind a meaningful legislative effort and funding.
I do give the organizers credit for one thing. They come with pre-made signs for participants. At last week's Families Belong Together march in New York City, I noted the lack of signage as I photographed people crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. Yes, there were signs, but not very good ones and not in abundance after the initial wave of participants passed over the bridge. All rally organizers should remember that the visuals matter, particularly when the organizers are expecting media coverage. In that same vein, Bartosiewicz would be well advised to lose the gum and the other speakers should hold the mikes further away from their mouths. People clutching the microphones close to their mouths look nervous and insecure, which makes for bad visuals.
All in all, it was not a good day for the Second Amendment advocates. Like the crowd size for President Donald J. Trump's inauguration relative to the turnout for the Women's March and March for Our Lives, the size of the Millennium Park rally paled in comparison to Father Michael Pfleger's effort to shut down the Dan Ryan.
"Only Then Will You Discover Why Our Right to Bear Arms Was So High on the List"
A 13-Year Old Speaker (Possibly Colin FitzSimmons)
An Adult Stands Behind Children Holding American Flags
"Young Americans for Freedom"
Handwritten Sign and the Flag
All Decked Out
Lukasz Dusza, Actor, Conservative Activist, Model, and Gateway Pundit (according to the Faceback Page for March for Our Rights)
Rhonda Ezell of Chicago Guns Matter Makes Her Point
"The Day Marksmans . . . Met History"
One of the Adult Participants Speaks His Mind
"Take Back Gun Rights"
ABC7 News Interviews March Organizer Anthony Bartosiewicz
"Harassment by Bullies: We're Not Going to Take It Anymore"
Lukasz Dusza with Rally Participants Behind Him
The Keeper of the Signs
And in an interesting twist to the day's events that brought Dr. Strangelove to mind, one gentlemen came up out of his wheelchair, apparently stirred by something he heard. At times, he seemed disturbed by what he was hearing, but at times he seemed to be in agreement with the demonstrators. If I heard him correctly, he did ask where the Black people were. He left shortly after the speeches began.
On the Move
Tearing His Shirt Off