Political Violence in My Fair City?

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 20, 2012

So, protesters are raising a ruckus in Chicago in response to the NATO conference taking place here. Many of them claim to be protesting against the supposedly god-awful system of capitalism, and on behalf of the 99%. This is a curious claim; any number of businesses in Chicago have either had to shut down for the next few days, or have experienced curtailed business because people don’t want to travel into the city and encounter protesters and potential political violence. The office building where I work had to close yesterday and won’t open until Tuesday at noon. If the protesters really cared about the 99% they claim to represent, they might have decided to let businesses continue to operate unimpeded by threats of political violence, thus ensuring that the 99% who have to work for a living can do so without fear that any lack of business might cause their paychecks to suffer. But it would likely have been too much to hope that such a thought might occur to the protesters.

Of course, business losses may be the least of Chicago’s concerns:

It was the middle of the lunch rush Saturday, and Mike Winston was working in the kitchen of his Tinley Park restaurant, the Ashford House, when a waitress screamed a fight had broken out in the dining room.

Police call the melee at the restaurant a targeted assault by a mob that Winston said wielded metal batons and hammers. Ten diners were hurt in the attack, and three of those were hospitalized.

Tinley Park police had five suspected assailants in custody, and Winston said 18 young men, all wearing hooded jackets and obscuring their faces with scarves and other coverings, stormed into the restaurant.

“They came running in the door single file,” said Winston, who owns Ashford House, 7959 W. 159th St., and the adjacent Winston’s Market.

Winston, and police, said the men knew who their targets were, and that the attack wasn’t a random act of violence. Winston said the mob “targeted” a group of 20 diners, all of whom were from out of state.

“Once they attacked the table, they went and started hitting random people,” Winston said.

The description of injuries are scary. There are, as I see it, three possibilities at work here:

  1. The mob was not part of the political protest movement, and did not know that police resources may have been diverted to keep the peace during protests.
  2. The mob was not part of the political protest movement, and did know that police resources may have been diverted to keep the peace during protests, thus causing them to believe that they could initiate the attack and get away with it.
  3. The mob was part of the political protest movement.

Two out of three of these scenarios make the protest movement look rather bad. And given that there is likely some overlap between the political protesters in Chicago and the Occupy movement in general, two out of three of these scenarios ought to make the Occupy movement look pretty bad as well.

Obviously, a comprehensive police investigation is needed before we can pin blame on any political group, but if said investigation reveals that the political protesters and the Occupy movement were behind these types of crimes, or if the protests helped draw away police resources from the prevention of these types of crimes, then the protesters and those who supported them have a lot to answer for, now don’t they?

Also, just out of curiosity, when is the last time you read about the Tea Party causing trouble for the police, and contributing–either directly, or indirectly–to public disorder?

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