Yesterday was both exhilarating and exhausting. It was great to see so many local residents come to show our mayor that Bolingbrook has no room for hate. The event planned by Suburban Families Against Hate (SFAH) was a first of its kind in our community. I have lived here most of my 54 years and never have I witnessed anything like it. I would say that most residents are so involved with family and work that idea of doing little more than grumbling and moving on when they notice something they don’t like in the Village. Certainly a protest like this was not on anyone’s mind until Mayor Claar invited Trump to our village. This seems to have galvanized some of our local community activists to action, myself of course being one of them. Claar’s invitation for Trump to come to town may well have awakened a sleeping giant.
I was proud of the speeches given by Bolingbrook residents Norman Brown, Joe Giamanco and Bob Jaskiewicz. There were some excellent speakers also for the Fight for $15 campaign, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and others. Ruby Lofton’s sign was a great visual during these speeches. Given the past rumors in our town of retribution these residents were quite brave to stand up and share their views about Trump and Claar’s invitation to him. Bolingbrook, at least east of Weber, is a majority minority area per the 2010 Census, so inviting a presidential candidate that has been so open about how he feels about people of a certain race, sex or ethnic group was not something we were expecting.
I recall when a little known State Senator was here during his run for the US Senate and believe me there were no protests. In fact when he did finally become the presidential nominee, our mayor who normally sends an endorsement letter to every home in Bolingbrook, stood mute on presidential candidate Obama’s race in 2008 and did not endorse. However he must really feel secure in his 30 years of being mayor as it didn’t slow him down on endorsing Trump in a community with over 500 Muslim families, and goodness knows how many Hispanic and Asian families. Note, Rauner (or as we call him here at home Ruiner) the party leader for the state supports term limits, but I guess that doesn’t apply to Claar.
It was nice to see Deborah Farmer (Bolingbrook) reach out to a Trump supporter and shake hands, but that should never have been a possibility as we were told by Tom Ross the Public Safety Director that Trump fans would be located in a separate area. I was very worried at one point when some verbal debate started between the two groups, putting all of the attendees at risk. This would never have happened in other communities, I have attended Democratic Conventions and have observed that the police make sure to keep protesters separated, it makes me wonder if in fact that the SFAH wasn’t being in some way set up. It could have been an over site I suppose, but if so, I would say our force needs more training. In the end all was peaceful, but I was worried for a short time about our safety.
It was interesting to see the dozen or so Trump supporters, some of which were Veteran’s, try to convince our group we were supporting the wrong candidate. Many of us recall what Trump said about John McCain not being a hero and his comparison of the sacrifices he made growing his business to that of a solider fighting for our Country. I just wonder how any Vet can support someone who says what he has said.
I spent some time towards the end gathering names, numbers and emails of Bolingbrook residents that might be interested in electing new residents to the Village Board. Maybe there will finally be enough interest in who governs Bolingbrook that we will truly be able to elect community members that are not hand picked and financed by Claar, village trustee candidates that might disagree with the mayor and get it on the record, or at least not beholding to him. I have heard from reliable sources that in the last 20 years there hasn’t been a single vote by our elected Trustee’s against anything Claar supported. Claar has had his home searched by the FBI, has been arrested for DUI’s, reportedly given sweetheart deals to his friends and threatened people’s lively hood when they didn’t do what he wanted. He has a long reach and so I say again, brave folks out there on the line yesterday.
This will not be the end of the “Sleeping Giant”, at least I hope not. I look forward to the day when all the members of our community are engaged in our local government. A wonderful woman I know put it this way, we are either consumers of government or consumed by government, what she was saying by consumed was that we were involved. I think we need to get a few more people into the later category and not only here in Bolingbrook.