Three aldermen drop out of “Support the Police” rally
by BRIAN NADIG
Three of the six Northwest Side aldermen originally listed as sponsors of a Sept. 16 "Support the Police" rally in front of the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police Station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave., will not be attending the annual event over concerns about some of the speakers initially scheduled for the event.
Two of those speakers, WLS-AM 890 radio personality Mancow Muller and WIND-560 AM talk show host Amy Jacobson, are no longer listed on a revised poster for the rally, which has been held in front of the police station for the past 5 years.
Still scheduled to speak are Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 president John Catanzara, Firefighters Union Local 2 president Jim Tracy, police chaplain Dan Brandt and attorney and former judge Sam Amirante, who once represented serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
Also speaking will be Chicago police officer Jay Cloherty, who earlier this year was shot in the line of duty. It also had been announced on social media that Republican state’s attorney candidate Pat O’Brien would be a "special guest," but his name is not on the posters.
"What started as a rally to support (the police) has morphed into a political rally. Since I agreed to take part, speakers have since been scheduled that do not represent my view. As such, I will continue to support our officers, but I will not be participating," Alderman Gilbert Villegas (36th) said in a recent Facebook posting.
Alderman and former police officer Chris Taliaferro (29th) and Alderman Ariel Reboyras (30th) made similar postings, stating their support for the police but concerns over the political nature of the event. All three aldermen who dropped out also serve as a democratic committeeperson.
Sponsoring the rally are its main organizer, Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th), and aldermen Anthony Napolitano (41st) and James Gardiner (45th).
"My attendance at the rally is to show my continued support and admiration for the police officers who help keep our community safe," Gardiner said.
Sposato said that the other aldermen were aware of the speakers prior to the release of the first poster and that they only later came to him with concerns. He added that he offered to give up running the event and even to drop the speakers "as long as we have a prayer and the National Anthem," but Taliaferro, Reboyras and Villegas indicated it was too late and they would not be attending.
Sposato said that each speaker is being asked to give a "positive message" about police and to refrain from political remarks. He said that the speakers were chosen because of their history of supporting first responders and that there could be additional changes to the list of speakers.
"This is all about the police," Sposato said.
Sposato said that he hopes the event remains non-political but that he expects to see some people wearing "MAGA hats" and carrying signs in support of President Trump. "He’s very pro-police, and I expect to see some of his supporters there … (and) maybe some counter-protesters," he said.
The names of all six aldermen are on T-shirts that will be sold at the event. Sposato said that the shirts were made by the time the three aldermen dropped out.
Proceeds from the shirts and "Support Our Police" signs will go to the district’s community policing office and the Garrido Stray Rescue Foundation.