Rockford, Illinois News

Vow by local protesters prompts closure of City Market

ROCKFORD – Rockford City Market will not happen this Friday after a local group of police abolitionists vowed to continue disrupting the event.

“We are saddened at the environment that has existed during the last few Fridays at the market and are very concerned about the proximity of vendors and marketgoers to the protesters who have been and continue to be very aggressive and disruptive with their actions,” Peter Provenzano, chairman of the Rock River Development Partnership, which runs City Market, said in a news release.

Provenzano’s announcement comes day after Leslie Rolfe, a local demonstrator and voice of Rockford Youth Abolitionists and May 30th Alliance, announced that protests outside the market will be intensified. He vowed to turn up the noise after Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea, Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross and Mayor Tom McNamara announced that officers did not use excessive force when they arrested 10 people May 30 during a protest that turned violent at Police District 1.

“There will be no peace at City Market on Fridays,” Rolfe said outside the precinct Wednesday afternoon. “You will not be able to get your drinks, sit and chill, talk to each other and listen to whatever music the band is playing. You will be listening to Tupac (Shakur), Kenrick Lamar, Ice Cube, N.W.A and sirens.”

Demonstrators at recent protests, which have not been violent, have blocked traffic for several minutes near the market pavilion.

Rolfe also vowed Wednesday that there will “be no peace” at the homes of each Rockford alderman, calling out each by last name. He added that protests outside McNamara’s home would continue, as well as at the homes of  O’Shea and Hite Ross.

“Let’s have a united front to tear down this corrupt white power structure–economically and politically,” Rolfe said in a prepared speech. “Now the same power structure will listen to these words and accuse me of inciting you to violence. No, I am not inciting you to violence. The constant brutalization crimination, exploitation, and harassment that the Rockford Police Department and the City of Rockford has subjected generations of black people to is what incites violence.”

In a video released Wednesday, Rolfe said he is still planning to protest at City Market Friday even though it won’t be open.

“We are going to be out here,” he said. “I don’t want them to the think they can cancel City  Market and that’s going to cancel the protest. It won’t happen like that.”

Provenzano added: “Friday nights at the City Market are meant for gathering and being neighborly. All are and have always been welcome. This is why we started the Market in the first place—to bring us all together in the heart of our city. However, we must be peaceable, civil, and respectful, inside and outside of the Market’s boundaries.

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