It was interesting entering the Hiliard Homes complex--a gem of urbanity designed by the famous architect Bertrand Goldberg--from a little spur of Dearborn Street off of Cullerton. In the olden days, Dearborn went all the way to Cermak and there were mansions on the street and that's where the Everleigh sisters owned and operated their double-mansioned brothel at the turn of the last century for the highest of the high class clientele. I always knew their mansion had been somewhere in the parklike setting of what is now the housing complex, but I never dared walk into the gated community--now mixed income, as well as senior citizen--to have a look at the hallowed ground of long ago.
But tonight I had a reason to pursue entering. The community room right off the complex courtyard on Cermak was where the Beat 132 CAPS
meeting was held. And I figured on the eve of NATO
, being only a stone's throw from McCormick Place
, there were bound to be some hot questions. Not to mention some cool answers.
The room was packed and many of us had to stand outside in the breezeway and listen through the doors and windows. There was a large contingent of elderly Chinese people from Chinatown--and they had an interpreter who stood with the two officers conducting the meeting, translating their long-winded answers after they were through.
I was bemused that the answers the two officers gave in response to residents' concerns about their safety and security over the next several days were similar to the answers given at a special CAPS meeting held in Dearborn Park
in early February. Back when we were still going to host the G8
, as well: that it's all up to the Secret Service. They're calling the shots.
There are going to be thousands of police officers all around the South Loop, the officers informed the attendees. It seems there are already cops everywhere. Maybe it's my imagination but I feel a lockdown is waiting to happen. Like I'll walk out of my house and a cop will tell me to get back in.
Protests are already taking place regarding things like immigration, criminal justice, foreclosures and poverty--and arrests have already been made
. The groups are infiltrated and law enforcement knows what they're up to--but "anything can happen." The message was that people have to be aware of their surroundings to minimize inconvenience and danger.
And last but not least, the Secret Service is in charge of it all. (Translation: Anything goes wrong? It's on them.)
But the bright spot? The group was told if residents run into any trouble in the neighborhood in the next few days, just call 911. The police are still going to be out there doing regular police work and will be available if called.
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