Gus Philpott, who writes the “The Woodstock Advocate” blog, was at McCormick Park last Saturday for the Midwest Minutemen and McHenry County Peace Group demonstrations.
Our family was in Shelbyville celebrating the wedding of Eric Black and Catherine Morrison, so we missed the overwhelming police presence that Philpott observed.
Crystal Lake blogger Patrick Murffin also was there. His report is on “Heretic, Rebel, a Thing to Flout.” It comes complete with photos, mainly of the Peace Group and allies because the Minutemen were out of camera range on the other side of the park.
Here’s Philpot’s report:
Minuteman/Peace Group Demonstrations
In Crystal Lake this afternoon two groups met in adjoining corners of McCormick Park along Route 14. Upon arriving at 1:30PM, I parked and was walking into the park behind a canine officer with his dog. As I walked toward the front of the park along Route 14, the dog stopped and squatted. We all know what that means; right?
I was behind the officer and waited while the dog finished. The dog straightened up and the officer and the dog walked away from the fresh feces left on the park grass. As I caught up with the officer, I asked, “Excuse me. You are going to clean up after your dog, aren’t you?”
I was immediately challenged forcefully by a different officer, one standing with two other officers at the center of the park and wearing a white shirt typically associated with command personnel of a police department. He demanded, “What’s your name?”
I said I was addressing the man with the dog and wanted to know if he was going to clean up the feces. The man with the dog was wearing fatigue pants, a blue t-shirt, and I recognized a multi-pouched vest but no visible weapon. Again the command officer challenged me and demanded my name.
I asked if there were anything wrong with asking if he was going to clean up after his dog. The command officer asked if I were with the City; when I said I wasn’t, he told me to move along. When I asked again about the feces left on the grass, he said he’d take care of it and told me to move along. I asked his name and then gave him mine.
There was no reason whatsoever for him to be forceful. I certainly represented no threat to him or to anyone else. Had he been civil, I would have answered differently. First of all, there was no reason for him to interrupt and challenge me, when my question was directed to the man with the dog. He could have let the man answer and then, if necessary, added a comment. \
I am not intimidated by police, and I understand my rights quite well. I can meet any verbal challenge. If I have done nothing illegal, I have nothing to fear and have no fear. And I am not going to be bullied.
The presence of the Crystal Lake Police Department, supported by the Sheriff’s Department and other police agencies, as evidenced by the patrol vehicles parked a block away, was overwhelming and unnecessary. As soon as command personnel saw that there was no danger, they should have pulled back their officers. I didn’t count the number of officers at the time; looking back, I’ll guess that there were 25-30 officers present.
The demonstrations of the Minutemen and other anti-illegal immigration beliefs may have numbered about 40. The Peace Group supporters numbered 50 or so. The many cops were there because they were ordered to be there. It made no sense at all, once it was clear there was no threat of violence. The right decision would have been to pull the officers back from the Park, even back to the Crystal Lake Police Department headquarters or perhaps to a nearby fire station or the parking lot of the lake or of Dole Mansion, but definitely away from McCormick Park.
I’ll bet that, if the officers were polled secretly and without fear of retaliation, they would say that they realized early that they were not needed and would not be needed. Command personnel of the Crystal Lake Police Department were in an overkill mode. There was no need for at least two canine units, the command motorhome which was parked out-of-sight of the Park, or assistance from other departments.
By the way, the feces did get picked up. Why the canine officer did not pick it up before he ever walked away from it in the first place is not known. He certainly wasn’t rushing to provide assistance to anyone. I’ve been wondering if he really would have picked it up, had I not spoken up. Since he had no plastic bag out and did not look back as he walked away from it, one can only guess whether it would have been picked up.
Was anything resolved today? Very few demonstrators moved from one group to the other, either to ask questions or provide opinions. I did learn from a knowledgeable source that there may be approximately 31,000 Hispanic residents in McHenry County and that as many as 40% of them, based on a national average, might be undocumented. This would mean 12,000+ undocumented Hispanics in McHenry County, in addition to undocumented persons of other nationalities.
It is clear that dialogue is needed and that all should make an effort first to understand the problems and then to attempt to resolve them. The Peace Group will hold a meeting at McHenry County College on September 13th. Check its website, www.mcpg.org, for time and details. The Minutemen are likely to re-schedule today’s meeting that was canceled by the Holiday Inn. Find information at www.illinoisminuteman.com/ The Latino Coalition can be contacted at 815/206-044