|Just a small slice of the Hate Has No Home in Woodstock march taken from the steps of the Old Court House.|
Credit where credit is due. The Trumpistas and anti-immigrant folks turned out between 250 to 300 people at one time for their Spirit of America Rally yesterday in the sunshine on Woodstock Square. Probably another hundred came and went over the course of their 2 ½ hour rally. That’s better than many local pro Trump events around the country which have had a hard time mustering a corporal’s guard. But then again this is deep red McHenry County and their numbers were swollen when word got out about a counter event.
|Organizer Crystal Squires had just finished giving out the last of 400 Hate Has No Home in Woodstock Buttons.|
Which brings us to the Hate Has No Home in Woodstock which was organized spontaneously in about a week by folks who connected and collaborated at first on Facebook. The spark plug was the highly capable Crystal Squires, a young mother relatively new to this kind of activism who was profiled here in a blog entry a couple of days ago. Individuals and members of several local organizations including Indivisible Illinois Congressional District 14, McHenry County Progressives, LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), and .the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation Social Justice Team. Minutes after the scheduled starting time of the counter event Squires had distributed all 400 of the Hate Has No Home in Woodstock buttons, and there was already a continuous stream of colorful and peaceful marchers girding the Square on the outer sidewalks. And folks just kept coming. Estimates are tough because of the linear nature of the march, but participants easily doubled or tripled the gathering around the Gazebo.
|A couple of hundred or so attended the Spirit of America Trump fest on the Square. The counter event participants circling the Square far outnumbered them.|
Either of the two competing events would have been by far the largest political event, rally, or protest I have seen on the Square in almost 35 years in McHenry County. Taken together they represent a truly historic local demonstration of democracy and free speech in action.
On the whole the two groups were respectful, if scornful of each other. Early on as the Trump fans were moving into the Square, there were some not-to-friendly interactions with the No Hate crowds outside, but folks on both sides usually intervened to quickly calm things. A calming peace cadre wearing pink handkerchiefs as arm bands was posted around the square at intersections and cross walks to remind marchers not to interact with the other side and refrain from jeers and insults. As requested almost all of the homemade signs had positive and often very clever messages.
|You couldn't keep Tree of Life's Judy Doane Mullins away.|
The crowd was liberally sprinkled with pink pussy knit caps made fashionable at the Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches like the one in Chicago. TOL’s Carrie McDonald rocked that fashion statement. The LGBT community which recently found vocal support at the February 4 support rally in Crystal Lake turned out in force. There were Latinos including Maggie Rivera and her contingent from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) but one woman told me there would have been many others but the community is alarmed by reports that ICE agents have been snatching for deportation Dreamers and others who have engaged in public protest.
|This lady came from LULAC armed with extra signs.|
As for causes, several signs supported Black Lives Matter although there were precious few Black faces in the crowd, not a surprise in McHenry County. I spotted several environmental signs and support for science including the March for Science events being planned for this coming Earth Day in April. Although marchers were advised to not bring anti-Trump signs, there were some jabs at the Cheeto in Charge. Several brought up the Russian connection. Others alluded to pussy grabbing and other misogyny. A crowd favorite was a placard that read, “I could assemble a better Cabinet from IKEA.”
|Tree of Life's Carrie MacDonald was one of many sporting a knit Pink Pussy hat. Carrie went on the Women's March on Washington.|
On the political front there were Democratic candidates Cheryl Voss who is running on the Nunda 5 Star Team for township clerk. Office holders included County Board Member Paula Yensen and Hebron Councilman Andre Georgi. McHenry County Democratic Party Chair Mike Bissett, still recovering from recent surgery was there as were many members of the County Democratic Women’s Club. Hillary Clinton supporters—one carried a sign pointing out that Woodstock was an island of blue in her support in the County which Trump took easily—and hardcore Bernie-or-Busters marched side by side, a miracle of coexistence in its own right. Some McHenry County Progressives are only lightly tethered to the Democratic Party at this point and yearn for some new left or democratic socialist party. I spied a few of that dying breed, social liberal Republicans, mostly women associated with support of Planned Parenthood and reproductive choice. I didn’t see any Greens, but there were probably rank and file supporters.
Several signs quoted Bible verse or made other Christian faith based statements. There was one guy with a sign quoting Robert Ingersoll—the 19th Century’s Great Agnostic. I may have been one of a handful of people who knew who Ingersoll was. Tree of Life UU Congregation was very well represented. I recognized about 30 members and probably missed some. In addition I know of about half a dozen more who would have been there if they didn’t have schedule conflicts. I also was told that there was a small contingent of UU’s who drove all the way up from Oak Park, presumably from Unity Temple.
|The Old Man with Lillian Colon who I first met at the LBGT support rally a month earlier. She inexplicably asked to have our picture taken.|
Personally, the march was like one big family reunion. I ran into folks from every aspect of my long local social justice activism that I had not seen in years. That included Native American activist Cindy Bloom and Patricia and Bill Buhrmann from the early days of the old Peace & Justice Festival/Diversity Day.
|A snap of a hundred or so Hate Has No Home marchers gathered for a photo-op in front of the Woodstock City Hall--just a fraction of all of the participants.|
The march wound down at 1:30 to allow our folks to disperse before the Trumpistas came boiling out of the Square when their rally ended about 2. A lot of us drifted over in front of the Woodstock City Hall, a block off the Square for a group photo event. You can see that was quite a crowd, but it was only a fraction of all of the marchers.
All in all, a mighty good day in Woodstock.