BY ALAN SUDERMAN and MEGHAN STREIT, Medill News Service
Shouts of “no street, no peace” echoed inside and outside the Chicago City Council chambers last Wednesday as a group protested the council’s failure to vote on designating a street in honor of slain Black Panther leader Fred Hampton.
Fred Hampton Jr., chairman of a group calling itself the Prisoners of Conscience Committee, led about 30 other protestors ?” many of them wearing T-shirts with pictures of Hampton’s father ?” chanted loudly for about 45 minutes in the hallway outside the council chambers during the council meeting after Chicago Police barred them from going onto the council floor.
One officer said the group, despite its confrontational rhetoric, didn’t break any laws and he was pleased that the protest ended without any arrests.
“It went well,” he said.
The group tried to enter the main floor after sitting in the upstairs spectator balcony for about an hour as the Council met. At first only seven police blocked the group’s way but more than 20 additional police quickly arrived as reinforcements after some protestors tried to push their way through to the council floor. One protestor, using a bullhorn, shouted to the police, “We gonna make you lock us up. We gonna make you beat us.”
Inside, aldermen for the second consecutive month did not take up the opportunity to vote to name a section of West Monroe Street “Chairman Fred Hampton Way,” while the muffled chants of “bring the vote to the floor,” were heard from outside.
After leaving City Hall, Hampton said that Mayor Richard M. Daley was responsible for Allen’s decision to not put the vote to the floor.
Hampton said he hoped his father would eventually be honored with a street, but added he was protesting “the Daley dictatorship.”
“At a minimum, what is being exposed is that this is not a democracy,” Hampton said.
Daley, speaking with reporters after the protest, denied any interference with Allen’s decision.
“It’s up to the aldermen to decide,” said Daley, adding that he thinks that honorary street signs are “a waste of time and money.”