MOUNT GREENWOOD — Patricia Gilboy-Mueller of Mount Greenwood simply wanted to show support for the Chicago Police Department when she placed blue ribbons on the street poles and trees on her block.
A couple days later she, her daughter and a neighbor lined the commercial district on 111th Street with the blue ribbons. Car horns honked and people waved on Tuesday as their effort seemed to touch a nerve in the community populated by a significant number of police, firefighters, teachers and other city workers.
The Blue Ribbon Walk was born from this modest display of support. The march in appreciation for police officers in Chicago and nationwide steps off at 1 p.m. on Saturday from the northwest corner of 111th Street and Kedzie Avenue.
The walk concludes at the Mount Greenwood Community Church at 3509 W. 111th St. Pastor Bill Crowder will give a blessing to all officers. Hot chocolate and cookies will also be available.
"I respect what they [police] do," Gilboy-Mueller said.
Marnie Ketza Coyne of Mount Greenwood is the driving force behind the Blue Ribbon Walk. Her husband, Steve Coyne, is a 17-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department and currently assigned to Englewood.
"It's going to piss some people off," Coyne said of the Blue Ribbon Walk. "But everybody has the right [to march], and we are using ours."
Coyne used the campaign office of Dr. Anne Schaible to organize the walk. Schaible, a 19th ward aldermanic candidate, is also distributing additional blue ribbons from her headquarters at 3135 W. 111th St. in Mount Greenwood.
Despite the campaign, Schaible and Coyne said the Blue Ribbon Walk isn't politically motivated. Both women said the murder of two police officers in New York City on Dec. 20 is the primary reason for the Blue Ribbon Walk.
"A lot of people are tired of just sitting here and doing nothing," Coyne said.
NYPD officers Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjian Liu, 32, were fatally shot by a man upset over the chokehold death of an unarmed black man and subsequent court decision not to indict the officer involved. The gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, then turned the gun on himself.
Racial tensions were already high leading up to the decision not to indict in the Eric Garner death on Dec 3. The New York City decision was handed down within days of a St. Louis County grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri for the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man.
The rulings led to protests throughout the country including Chicago, where several hundred people shut down Lake Shore Drive on Nov. 25.
In Morgan Park, the Southsiders for Peace organized a march titled "Fight Racism: Take Back The Streets" on Dec. 20. The march concluded at the Morgan Park Police Station at 1900 W. Monterey Ave.
Coyne said the Blue Ribbon Walk isn't in response to the march in the neighboring community. Nor is it an endorsement of police misconduct. Rather, she said the walk is simply a show of support that's ballooned since she noticed the blue ribbons showing up on trees and street poles.
And the movement appears to be spreading. Ald. John Pope (10th) posted a picture of a blue ribbon outside of his office on the East Side on Wednesday. Schaible said requests for ribbons have come from other parts of the city too as well as the suburbs.
As for Gilboy-Mueller, she never expected her blue ribbons to connect with so many people.
"I'm totally shocked by it," she said.
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