MORGAN PARK — Chicago Police Cmdr. Mark Harmon has asked organizers of a pro-police rally set for Saturday in Morgan Park to either move or reschedule the event.
Of the 758 people invited to the rally through Facebook, 28 individuals had committed to attending the event as of Thursday morning and another 163 people were "interested."
Harmon spoke to an organizer of the group Tuesday and asked for the event to be rescheduled or moved to another district — perhaps in an area that doesn't receive the same level of support as the Morgan Park District.
"While we always appreciate support, we would prefer not to have a rally," said Harmon, who also worried the event could draw a counter protest.
DNAinfo's attempts to contact organizers of Chicago Code Blue were unsuccessful. The group made headlines last month when it was denied entry into the downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Parade organizers argued that there wasn’t enough time to properly vet Chicago Code Blue, which bills itself as a "nonprofit coalition of law enforcement supporters." But organizer Gary Snow told CBS2 that the rejection was a "a slap in the face."
For his part, Harmon said the rally in Morgan Park suffers from poor timing. His officers are preparing for the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 13. And last weekend, a prayer service featuring the Rev. Michael Pfleger at St. Barnabas Parish in Beverly drew considerable attention, he said.
"You are doing it a week before I am expecting 100,000 people in my neighborhood," Harmon said.
In some cases, Code Blue's Facebook page branches beyond a strictly pro-police message. The group's posts include questioning whether Chicago Police officers ought to boycott an upcoming Beyonce concert, pictures of activists who appear affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement burning an American flag and an endorsement of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
One particular post features a man who appears to be Snow attending at least one anti-police rally. The video shows the man flying an American flag above a thin blue line flag. To the dismay of protesters, the man in the video is also playing loud recordings of bagpipe music.
Harmon questioned whether the group had some sort of agenda beyond simply showing support for the police. And he worried that rally could actually lead to a confrontation outside of the station.
"You are not showing me support. You are putting my officers in harm's way," he said.
Harmon added that the Morgan Park District has historically led the city when residents are surveyed about their satisfaction with the police. He hinted that the area being home to more than 4,000 city workers might have something to do with the statistics.
And appreciation for the police officers in Morgan Park plays out often, Harmon said. He pointed to the roughly 500 holiday cards his district received this year from local children.
Most recently, students at the George F. Cassell Fine Arts School in Mount Greenwood sent "survival kits" to the station for police officers. The brown bags contained a variety of candy and a note linking the candy to the officer's duties.
Among the goodies inside the bags were Hersey's Kisses "to show our love for you" and gum to "help everyone stick together," said the note outside of the kits.
"Let somebody else enjoy the benefits that we normally get," Harmon said.
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