It’s that time of year when Chicago residents take their Mexican Independence Day cruising downtown motivated by two purposes: President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant speech and the over policing of their neighborhoods.
People waving flags out of the windows of their trucks is a Chicago thing to do along the major streets of historically Latino neighborhoods since the 1980’s, not just for Mexican Independence Day, but for other Latin American independence and heritage days (with their respective flags), and sports and political celebrations, too.
Since President Trump’s run for office, however, people have rolled deep in downtown Chicago as a display of defiance and cultural pride near the Trump Tower.
In recent years, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) has also blocked major east-west thoroughfares for Latino residents during their cultural observations. These past two weekends, 10th district police blocked 26th St. in the Mexican neighborhood of Little Village, parking their squad cars in key intersections and prohibiting motorists from driving on their main road for more than one mile.
In an email today, CPD claimed that police were blocking 26th street and 25th street in Little Village because “Police were attempting to clear the area for post clean-up from the Parade.” However, there was no parade or public event taking place this weekend. CPD did not clarify.
Latino residents in the North Side also allege that 25th District police blocked Fullerton Ave. and Diversey Ave. at Laramie, and parts of Cicero Ave. too, with police officers on foot confiscating their Mexican flags.
The unintended consequence of blocking streets normally cruised by caravans of Latinos once or twice a year is that drivers are detoured downtown or to other areas.
On Saturday, a Facebook user wrote in a post that was shared 15,000 times by Sunday: “If the police shut down our communities and don’t let us celebrate in peace in our own communities, we are going to go where we can make a statement. What better place than downtown?”
He then called on “All the people from 26th, Cermak, Fullerton, and more, in one place.”
La Villita, Chicago Facebook page also provided alternative routes to 26th St. and summoned people downtown.
Little Village is deemed a No Cruising Zone by CPD since 2004, which means that on the third time that a driver passes the same location within a one-hour span, they can get pulled over and ticketed. Barricading the streets altogether, though, seems to be a new move.