'Power to the People' rally draws dueling factions to Northbrook intersection
Those who believe America is at a crossroads found a literal example Sept. 25 in Northbrook.
On that evening Glenbrook North junior Peter Christos led the Power to the People rally at Shermer Road and Walters Avenue. His faction assembled on the east side of Shermer -- cater-cornered from the COVID-19 "Death Scoreboard" Peaceful Communities organizer Lee Goodman installed Sept. 18 in Triangle Park, which inspired Christos to hold his demonstration.
"It's brought to our attention that our community's really divided right now politically, racially and in support of our law enforcement. So we're just out here today exercising our First Amendment rights in support of our law enforcement, for the reopening of our schools and in support of President Donald Trump," said Christos, a moderator for the Glenbrook North Conservatives Instagram page.
"I personally invited Black Lives Matter and Antifa to protest right across the street because I think it's very important to see both sides of the argument," said Christos, who had protested the COVID sign shortly after its installation and had a run-in with a man who left his vehicle to approach him, video showed.
"We had a lot of people actually un-RSVP from this event because of what happened last week," Christos said, "which is sad that people have to hide their identities or be afraid of being fired from their jobs just because they support our country and our president. I don't think that's OK, so we're out here showing everybody that it's OK to be a Trump supporter and it's OK to love our country."
Starting with a pair of high school-aged girls a counter group built in numbers on the west side of Shermer Road, resembling Christos' contingent but with opposing beliefs. Catcalls lobbed back and forth across the street merged with honking car horns.
"I've been involved in politics ever since the Trump election. I think it woke up a lot of youths' minds to want to be involved in politics," said Christos, holding a dark blue "Trump" banner.
Periodically Christos and several others among his group crossed Shermer Road for civil discussions with the counterprotesters who similarly ranged from teenagers to septuagenarians.
No arrests were made, police said, and the only fireworks early into the rally scheduled from 5-9 p.m., came when a woman exited her southbound car stopped at the light to sing "God Bless America," then returned to her car to yell at people before a pair of police officers on bicycles chased her off to keep traffic moving.
Unaffiliated observers stood at each corner of the intersection or came from their homes to watch the proceedings.
"They have every right to do it, that's why I'm just sitting here watching it," said resident John McCormack, joined by his wife, Jennifer. "There's nothing I can do, they have every right to do that. That's some of the beauty of our First Amendment, right, that we have the right to do that. More power to them."
He nonetheless took consolation that a June 8 march in Northbrook supporting Black Lives Matter drew "at least 1,000" people while "Power to the People" attracted decidedly fewer.
"That tells me everything I need to know," McCormack said.
Meanwhile, Goodman watched near the steps to the Metra station.
"I'm never going to criticize anyone for making a public statement," he said, noting he'd updated his COVID Death Scoreboard earlier Friday to indicate 203,000 who've succumbed to the virus.
"I'm not sure what their position is here," he said. "We put up a sign talking about the pandemic and the people who are responsible for it. I don't know what it is exactly they're trying to say. So long as they're peaceful I've got no problem with it. They're not necessarily that peaceful, though. The last time they were being very aggressive, not wearing any masks, that's why we're staying at a distance today."
Another Glenbrook North junior, Yubin Son, attempted to find a sliver of hope as he watched the dueling forces from in front of Triangle Park.
"I think it's fine to have your own opinions," he said, "but to see the division in our country and even in our town, I don't know, it's kind of disappointing. But I'm sure in the future we'll unite someday."