May 27, 2008
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
The Fraternal Order of Police is fuming about the city's decision to
grant a permit that paved the way for a Memorial Day weekend march
honoring the birthday of David "King David" Barksdale, founder of the
Black Disciples street gang.
The parade along Ashland Avenue was held on Saturday, apparently
without incident. Chicago Police officers assigned to the event were
forewarned to expect trouble because the Black Disciples have "strong
ties" to the Black Gangster Disciples.
"Officers should be aware that the aforementioned gangs have
historical and current conflict with other rival gangs as well as
some factions experiencing internal conflict. Therefore, officers
assigned to the area of the parade should be aware that the
possibility of gang violence exists," said a May 22 advisory from the
Bureau of Strategic Deployment.
The fact that the parade went off without a hitch was not enough to
satisfy FOP President Mark Donahue.
The union president was incredulous that City Hall allowed it to
happen at all. He likened it to the 2006 furor over renaming a West
Side street in honor of slain Black Panther Leader Fred Hampton.
"It's an insult. This is a violent street gang credited with multiple
murders and chaos within communities. All residents in areas where
they are located should be offended," Donahue said.
"They need to have someone look at permit requests a little bit
closer and not allow an organization that's responsible for a great
deal of violence in this city to honor one of their leaders. Freedom
of speech is one thing. But, when you have to assign police officers
all over that area to work the parade to ensure compliance with the
permit, there's something wrong."
Police Department spokeswoman Monique Bond said the permit to hold an
"anti-violence march" was granted by the Office of Emergency
Management and Communications to a group known as, "House of David,
Put Down the Guns, Put on the Gloves."
"It's an anti-violence group very similar to groups like Cease Fire.
They use their life experiences to deter youth from going down the
wrong path. We also have information from police on the scene that
group participants were holding signs that said, `Put down the drugs.
Put down the guns,' " she said.
Bond insisted that there was "nothing in the permit that indicated
criminal activity or a threat." Why, then was an advisory issued to
police officers three days before the event?
"Intelligence was gathered late Thursday that indicated that this
group may have involved former gang members. Once we got word that
former gang members late in age may be in attendance, necessary
precautions were put into place," she said.
Two years ago, a City Council committee touched off a political
firestorm by voting without debate to rename a West Side street in
honor of Hampton, slain state chairman of a Black Panther Party that
urged its followers to "off the pigs."
Donahue called it a "dark day" in the city's history "when we honor
someone who would advocate killing policemen."
The proposed street-naming struck such a nerveand re-opened so many
old racial wounds that then-Ald. Madeline Haithcock (2nd) ultimately
gave up the fight for "Chairman Fred Hampton Way." She was unwilling
to divide the City Council along racial lines on a vote she was
destined to lose.