By Victor Ochieng
The celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday went down in style, but not without controversy. The breakfast gathering was hosted at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place and was attended by several dignitaries, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
As the proceedings were ongoing, there were some protesters outside comprising of individuals who believe Chicago isn’t where it’s supposed to be. The detractors strongly felt that were King alive today, he wouldn’t want to attend the celebration if nothing was done to correct the current state of things. One of the main reasons why protesters thought the breakfast was a betrayal was because they feel Emanuel hasn’t done much to protect the rights of Black people of Chicago.
Conversely, those on the inside also had the feeling that the protesters were betraying the celebration of the birthday of an American hero.
The protesters even attempted to stop people from entering the venue.
But inside, Emanuel was pretty much welcome, and many of the speakers at the event criticized protesters for allowing their anger to overshadow the significance of the event.
“For us to conjure up any reason to boycott this breakfast is to betray the sacrifices of our ancestors and those who fought for our freedom,” said the Reverend B. Herbert Martin Sr., pastor of Progressive Community Church located on the South Side.
Martin went further to say that “It is to betray them and their sacrifices. To boycott this breakfast is to trample on the graves of our foremothers and our forefathers.”
His statement was met with applause from those in attendance.
Among the protesters was Pastor Ira Acree, who’s categorically criticized Emanuel for poorly handling the shooting of Laquan McDonald, going as far as accusing the mayor of having tried to conceal the video of the incident in a bid to sail through the election. The mayor on his part denied having concealed the dashcam video.
Some protesters proceeded to the check-in unit for the breakfast before loudly denouncing Mayor Emanuel.
“I’m outraged!” shouted protester Ronald Mason. “This mayor is an outrage!”
Another protestor, Gregory Livingston, head of the Coalition for a New City, said “We cannot allow a tyrant to govern this city.”
When their acts appeared to be getting out of hand, they were sent away.
Emanuel took the platform to underline his commitment to restoring trust between the community and the police.