Free Speech Banned at Staged 2016 Event

The 2016 Committee is using our public parks for staged so-called “community events.” These are managed, policed, controlled and designed to repress real questions and criticism. Read the Chicago Tribune business reporter’s review, “At Olympics forums, truth is a high hurdle

Here’s an update from a No Games Chicago volunteer who attended the first one:

Report back from 2016 forum July 8, 2009–from OUTSIDE the so-called debate

It was great to revisit McKinley Park. As a boy growing up in Pilsen, it was an adventure to visit the park by bicycle, always doubled up on the handlebars of a friend’s bike. I never owned a two-wheeler of my own until I reached the age of 20, that’s when I bought a spanking brand new mid-sized motorcycle (even before learning to drive a car). Had to have mom sign for me at the Secretary of State’s Driver’s License facility before they’d issue a Class M license.

Anyway, here’s what went down outside the field house junk-forum.

I arrived at the entrance to the McKinley Park field house early with my 22 x 28 hand-made bright yellow NO BLANK CHECK poster. It’s amazing the effect those few words and two colors did to the 2016 Bid organizers; they considered it a big threat to their message. The alpha-color combo got me BANNED from the public meeting. So much for freedom of speech, right? Even Obama went on record the other day saying Chinese dissidents shouldn’t be killed for voicing their opinions. But not here in the good ole U.S. of A., because it’s the Chicago Way. When local government, a.k.a. 2016 Bid group, controls law enforcement, that’s too much consolidated power.

So, after standing a while in front of the field house with my poster, I had to use the facilities. I walked into the building with the poster in my left hand folded in two, not displaying it. Heads turned as I walked to and from through the building. I returned to the front of the building telling passersby “No Blank Check.” Some well dressed 2016 Bid organizers nodded in agreement with me as they strolled past. Others ignored me. Almost no one challenged me, except a petite woman. She’s the one who loaded some of the presentation visuals into her car parked nearby after the meeting was over. For such a sweet looking gal she can sure furrow her brow and glare. I was extremely careful not to physically bump into her while she went to and from her car lest she let out a blood curdling scream to the half-dozen men in blue that she was being harassed or worse.

Then it happened.

A lone police officer approached me when no one was around and almost whispering to me said “Your not allowed to enter the building with your sign.”

Shocked at hearing that warning I said “What about freedom of speech?”

He replied with a faint shrug of resignation “That’s what I’ve been told,” and immediately walked away, obviously not wanting to get into the 1st Amendment constitutional violation thing.

Barely able to contain myself knowing that I was only a few feet away from getting arrested or worse, I walked over to Dave’s father who was standing next to his friend and ally Mr. Dexter and repeated to them what had just happened. They couldn’t believe it either: a preemptive strike by 2016 Bid organizers. So at least three people were involved in the intimidation tactic: a bid organizer, a police supervisor and a police beat officer.

When was the last time you’ve heard that a sprinkle of words and colors caused someone to be barred, in advance, from entering a public meeting, in a public building with public officials participating? Does someone need to have a lawyer present when participating in public events? Damn.

From then on, I mentioned the censorship incident to everyone who was willing to listen. Of course, always out of earshot of the police. I told WGN9 Erin Melendez what happened, also said it to a reporter from a major Spanish TV station (she interviewed me about it on her way out). Thanks to Dave’s father who shouted that I was not allowed in, a WBEZ reporter and another radio station reporter interviewed me about it. A tall male African American TV reporter was told. The only one who I didn’t get to talk to was CBS’s Jay Levine, the seemingly driven man was always walking way too fast for me. Otherwise, all were sympathetic. Three feisty women from the Housing Bronzeville group were a blur of motion handing out green flyers with the image of Daley, Healy and someone else, it read “The Spinmasters” or such on it. They had no problem entering the meeting.

I didn’t let the “prohibition” incident get in the way of explaining to men women and children, when they asked, why we were there. By the way, if you’re wondering, had I been allowed to enter the building with everyone else, I wouldn’t have started yelling and screaming. Instead, I would’ve been silent, almost peaceful, letting the powerful artwork’s message speak for itself.

One tall bid rep was standing in front of the field house. Twice he tried to engage me by handing a “16 facts about the games” brochure to me. I wasn’t about to fall for that ploy, draw me into his orbit. “Don’t you want to come in and here what we have to say?” Both times I shook my head no. It’s obvious that he had no experience dealing with the public in any meaningful way. He looked unnaturally stiff in his grey suit. I wasn’t going to waste my time talking with him when undecided forum participants walked by. They were there to have their questions answered and it felt good that I was considered to be a resource as men women and children asked me what NO BLANK CHECK meant, sometimes in Spanish. A man and woman couple walked out of the meeting early, in frustration, she a recently laid off social services worker, said the games were a frill. Some passersby asked me for clarification. I also told people to phone their alderman expressing their displeasure with the unlimited exposure to taxpayers. Much thanks to Mr. Dexter, we have some signatures on the petition.

If the 2016 Bid had even 10% of the crowd inside marching outside with signs, the pro-blank check visuals would have been enough to neutralize our message. So most likely future pro-2016 Bid meetings will have lots of men women and children marching with posters. And I suppose some of them will be looking to pick a fight, get us taken out with disorderly conduct charges and neutralized. I’m not saying it will happen, but the embattled 2016 Bid is desperate to get their “Chicago is Immaculate” message out to the IOC.

I’ve been to many public community meetings. And this one, excuse the cliche, “takes the cake” regarding police power. It was over-saturated with a uniformed police presence. Even the mayor’s annual neighborhood budget meetings have not drawn anywhere near as many men in blue and their white-shirted supervisors.

I was glad to read an email description of the presenter’s stressed facial expressions as they were confronted with having people in their face asking questions after the meeting. Too bad neither mainstream nor the indy-media has broadcast it to the world.

Community activist Alberto Bocanegra Jr, another Facebook friend, told me he was ejected from the meeting, adding that a while back he lost an aldermanic election to Ald. Cardenas.

Maybe I’m living in the wrong town, that I should instead move to the land of Mt. Rushmore. As you may know, yesterday 12 environmental activists draped a large banner across the one of the faces. At least there were enough of them to find safety in numbers. Realizing that I had no such numbers to back me up, I had to keep looking over my shoulder as I walked to my car after the fake forum. I was afraid some thugmasters might want to send a muscle message to me the Chicago Way.

Thanks to all the No Gamers who showed up, you know who you are.


Hey, don’t WE THE PEOPLE own the parks, not the 2016 Committee? How much did they 2016 Committee pay for the use of the parks and all that police protection? Have you HAD ENOUGH yet? Call your Alderman – “NO BLANK CHECK!”


2 responses to “Free Speech Banned at Staged 2016 Event

  1. Your quote made me laugh…

    “Even Obama went on record the other day saying Chinese dissidents shouldn’t be killed for voicing their opinions. But not here in the good ole U.S. of A., because it’s the Chicago Way”


  2. People are also hassled at C.T.A. meetings.

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