Keeping retirement weird. Justice is the public face of love.



I saw the protests on the news at 4:30 and just read your blog. Some protesters were chanting about peace and profit while others were blocking store and mall entrances.

You and I are pensioners who will get a check on December 1st

Some of the people in those stores will see less in their pay because of commissions lost today, while others who rely on tips for a living might not have enough carfare to get home tonight. Keep up the good work and maybe next year the protesters will need Metra to get to the stores.

– Bob Busch


You have written comments to this blog dozens of times. Sometimes you have written to agree with me. Sometimes you have written to disagree. It’s all good.

I hope that we don’t disagree that the murder and the cover-up of the murder of Laquan McDonald is worthy of protest.

If you don’t agree with me that the actions of the police officer, police Superintendent McCarthy, Anita Alvarez and Rahm were protest-worthy, than the tactics of the protest are really not the issue that divides us.

I do believe that. It is why my family was marching up North Michigan Avenue on Friday.

So let’s talk about protest tactics.

We marched from Michigan and Wacker to the Water Tower. I didn’t block any doors. But that was only because I didn’t know that some of my fellow-protesters were doing it. I would have done it if I knew about it. It would have given me the chance to talk face-to-face to folks doing shopping. I would have talked to them about the tale of our two cities: A city of those who can afford to shop at Ralph Lauren and those who can  barely afford Aldi.

A third of our city lives below the poverty line.

I would have talked to them about police violence and the school-to-prison pipeline.

I love engaging people in conversation about important things. Some engage back. Some don’t. It’s all good.

I know that the North Michigan Avenue retailers made a big deal and expressed their sudden concern for their employees’ income loss.

The truth of the matter is that they have made a mess of things all by themselves. For all but the wealthiest, the economy sucks and those retailers can’t sell their stuff. Sales are down and it isn’t because protesters blocked their doors for a few hours on Saturday.

I saw some rich white lady in a fur coat on TV last night complaining that her right to shop had been violated. She looked silly. Heartless. All that was missing was her saying, “Let them eat cake.”

Protests disrupt things. That’s the idea.

When Martin Luther King led the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, people lost money.

When the UAW shuts down an automobile company, workers at all the suppliers are laid off even though they are not on strike themselves.

As a teacher, when you went on strike, families of the kids you taught had their lives disrupted. They didn’t choose that to happen. But it was necessary.

You don’t like the tactics that young people chose to show their righteous moral outrage?

Do something else.

If we both agree that what happened to Laquan McDonald is wrong and that the cover-up is wrong, than get out there and organize around the tactics that you think are better.

If we don’t agree?

See ya later,


9 Replies to “Keeping retirement weird. Justice is the public face of love.”

  1. Dear Fred
    I appreciate your response. My point is that when stores no longer become profitable they close.
    I was only being a little sarcastic about Metra, If these protests continue to block the magnificent mile
    shoppers will just go to Oak Brook or even Michigan City Indiana.
    I meant what i said about many of the people who work in those stores, or the college kids who wate tables in the restaurants along the street.What happened yesterday hurt them,and those who rely upon their earning.
    My experiences with violence are ,hopefully, very different than most teachers.I have lost so many kids
    I actually cannot remember all of them,the worse was Ben Wilson .I won’t even talk about the murderers I taught.The shootingr of Laquan was a barbaric act committed by a rouge cop only
    remembered because it was caught on video.
    Marching in protest down Michigan Ave is you right which I fully support.As far as the rich white woman with the fur coat is concerned what does that have to do with this? In 1969 my brother got home from Vietnam and I started teaching.My Mother was a widow who raised us alone. We got together and bought her a fur coat for Christmas that year,and we were not rich.
    I think some want to turn this into a class struggle but if it is where were the saber swing cassocks
    or water cannons? the protesters I saw on TV didn’t t look like starving masses,most of them looked pretty healthy.
    If the protest yesterday helps end poverty, drugs, senseless violence and mans inhumanity
    it was successful.Personally after I saw the video i said a prayer for Laquan, and the cop.


    For an informed view on whether protests are lawful, I recommend the foregoing ACLU analysis.
    My view is that the Chicago protests were not only unlawful, but were mis-directed. A peaceful picket line around police HQ would have made the point lawfully. It is hard (for me) to escape the conclusion that this type of protest (Mag Mile) is predicated on intimidation and the threat of violence. It is like packing a courtroom to create fear on the part of the judge or the jury. Our legal process (for better or for worse) depends on maintaining a level of public order. Those who seek to have their legal rights to pensions enforced by the courts should understand that those rights depend (among other things) upon a legislature and a judiciary who are able to act within an ordered system. The expected counter argument, of course, is that the mayor and police commissioner and prosecutor acted — or failed to act — in essentially corrupt ways for reasons they currently refuse to acknowledge. Jefferson expressed the view that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time by the blood of tyrants and our founding parents put quite a bit at risk. So there will always be the argument that illegal actions by our leaders will justify unlawful responses by those opposed to the leaders. However, assembling people with the announced purpose of disrupting the lives of people who were not involved in police violence or cover-ups does not measure up to even the ACLU’s yardstick for lawful protest.

  3. Fred, I agree totally that what happened to Laquan Johnson (and who knows how many others) is indefensible, and it is well past time for change. Two things bother me. Why take it out on stores and more importantly their employees? Protest in front of City Hall. Protest in front of police headquarters. I’m not sure what blocking the Apple Store entrance does to further the cause. I hope stores will do the right thing and not dock their workers. From all appearances the stores blocked were not mom and pop operations whose existence is dependent on good holiday sales, so I won’t cry for corporations. When it comes to the bottom line, though, it is not the guy sitting in the corporate offices that suffers. Lost profits seem to be made up in layoffs. I do feel for shoppers who came from a distance to shop ( and didn’t act like idiots). I loved the shot of the protestor hugging the lady who burst into tears and apparently lead her through the protestors to the store. That moment was more powerful than ten shots of people lined up blocking the stores. Yes, they were noticed and I hope it makes the powers that be really nervous. I hope there is some behind the scenes discussion between City Hall and the business community. Police work is hard, but it has to be humane no matter what, but this is about so much more than police brutality and institutional racism. It is about building strong communities with good support systems and good economic opportunities. Let’s all hope that people stay committed to fighting for change. No more bodies full of bullet holes!

    1. If you are unhappy with the tactics of the protest, let me know what you are doing and where you are doing it and I will join you. I found the action on North Michigan yesterday to be in the long tradition of non-violent direct action and thought it brought needed attention to the issue of police violence in this city.

      1. Relax, Fred. I’m asking, not pronouncing. I’m not unhappy with the protests; mass action of some sort seems to be the best way to get attention. Perhaps the better thing to have asked is how to keep the pressure on, how to sustain it. I apologize for my poor communication skills; I did not mean for disapproval of the tactics to be the takeaway.

  4. Thank you Fred and the peaceful protesters marching in the cold rain. And The Mag Mile was an excellent choice to protest. You hit the 1%ers right up their wazzu’s. The whole nation watched a very very peaceful March compared to other cities that had these situations. CNN was at a loss of words. You can tell by the way a lead in story went way down to just a slight mention. You people in that March made them hunger of what could have been, but wasnt. Good going to all, gave me pride in OUR CHICAGO

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