Daily Herald opinion: Protesters targeting Schneider in the middle of the night went too far

Protests over the war in Gaza have taken many forms in the past nine months, some peaceful, others quite ugly.

But the protesters that targeted the Highland Park home of U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider in the middle of the night last weekend clearly crossed the line.

Schneider — whose 10th District stretches across the Northern suburbs — is Jewish and a vocal supporter of Israel. He is, as a public official, expected to justify his votes and his views. And he has, even if those critical of Israel and angry about U.S. support vehemently disagree with his policies and opinions.

The protest, however, did not take place at his office or on the campaign trail, Rather, it unfurled in the middle of the night in a quiet neighborhood.

Masked protesters used loudspeakers, banged on drums and shouted out comments that police described as “pro-Palestinian and anti-semitic.”

Their shouting alarmed an entire neighborhood, with Highland Park police receiving about 30 calls at 2:43 a.m. Saturday.

In addition, Schneider’s office said a red liquid that appeared to be animal blood was poured on the sidewalk.

Video posted on a Direct Actions for Palestine Instagram account showed protesters beating drums and using other noisemakers as what sounded like sirens continued to blare at Schneider’s home.

“We must hold him accountable for the deaths of over 45,000 Palestinians in Gaza,” the post in part read. “If Gaza doesn’t get justice, then you don’t get no sleep,.”

Apparently, his neighbors don’t get to sleep either.

The clamor and the chants left many shaken. And rightly so. Imagine waking up to find masked, shouting protesters steps from your door.

No arrests were made. But the protesters promised to return.

“It’s unfortunate that, instead of seeking a constructive dialogue with Congressman Schneider, a group of people hiding their faces chose to taunt and intimidate a predominantly Jewish neighborhood on the Jewish Sabbath in the middle of the night,” said Caitlyn McNamee, Schneider’s communications director.

“It’s even more disturbing they chose to harass a community that is preparing to commemorate the second anniversary of the Highland Park mass shooting, a shared tragedy that was spurred by hate,” she added.

Showing up at the home of public officials is a growing and distressing trend, with protests targeting Supreme Court justices and others. Protesters angered over the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade disrupted neighborhoods of high court justices. In Chicago a few years ago, the police had to ban demonstrations in front of former Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s home. “I have a right to make sure my home is secure,” Lightfoot said in a 2020 story from WTTW.

Schneider has that right as well.

The rising death toll in Gaza is a heart-wrenching tragedy. So was the Hamas-led attack on Israel in October that killed more Jews in one day than any time since the Holocaust.

Those concerned about the bloodshed have the right to voice their opinions and call for change as the peace the region desperately needs remains elusive.

But frightening families in the middle of the night will do little to spur dialogue or change minds. It just stokes further fear and division.

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