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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Activists protest Spyners Pub over owner's racist post, past comments
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2020-06-05

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Over 100 Spyners Pub patrons and community members gathered June 4 in front of the pub, 4623 N. Western Ave., to protest against owner and general manager Maureen Sullivan's racist Facebook posts and past racist comments toward numerous bar patrons.

Sullivan, who deleted the racist posts, also blocked access to her Facebook page on the evening of June 3. When this publication checked the page June 4, her renovations ( where the screenshot of her original deleted racist post was shared by a number of people ) and apology posts were deleted.

The Facebook posts were filled with hundreds of comments from patrons and members of the public who called for a boycott, with some speaking about the racist comments they said they received in her pub.

This protest was one of many taking place worldwide in support of #BlackLivesMatter in recent days with attendees, who were mostly white, calling for Sullivan's pub to have its license revoked and be shut down.

For two hours, protestors peacefully stood at all four corners of the intersection of Western and Eastwood avenues, displaying signs while chanting slogans as most of the cars that passed by honked and cheered them along.

Chants included "No justice, no peace," "Don't support Spyners," "Hey, hey, they racists cops have got to go," "George Floyd, say his name" and "Breonna Taylor, say her name."

During the protest, Heart of Lincoln Square Neighbors Association Co-Founder and Outreach Committee Head Paige Worthy told Windy City Times, "This time—when we are all a little raw from shelter-in-place and then the protests started happening—this, more than any other time, people's true colors have started coming out.

"What could have just been a frustration spiraled into a racist tirade by Maureen that got spread around. She got caught, wrote a fake apology and thought she would get off scot-free. The community here does not tolerate this kind of behavior or beliefs. I am really heartened that so many folks from our community and other neighborhoods came out to join this protest and say this is not okay."

Heidi and Cindy Schuman, who are raising two Black children, were also at the protest.

"As a community we are happy to be out here together to stand up against hate," Heidi told Windy City Times. "We have supported this bar for years and years and to not only see the words she wrote that she copied and share with another person and then sent out on her Facebook page and then hearing stories from our close friends who have actually experienced hate and racism in this bar from her is very upsetting.

"The fact that we did not hear these stories until now, her asking people of color to leave the bar because she did not want their kind there or that they were stealing tips off the bar just because of the color of their skin is terrible. We are here to make a stand and say that her words and actions are not okay."

"It is disheartening and sad that she is a gay lady who made that racist statement saying they are going to loot and destroy property and that Black people are animals," said Cindy. "What does that say for my how she perceives my family?

"I am sad that I did not know that racism was going on here and that my Black friends could not tell me what happened to them here. Also, the fact that she has sponsored many of my CMSA teams and there are trophies inside her bar with my team names on them makes me angry because of the message that sends."

Another protestor, Lori ( who asked that her last name not be used ), told this publication, "On Mardi Gras this year, I was hanging out with some new friends at the bar and Maureen's partner came up out of nowhere and said 'Get the eff out of here. I'm sick of people coming up to me and complaining about you,' and at that point I was, like, 'I just moved here this past September, so what?'" She said made no sense.

"Another day, I was walking from the 7-Eleven back home. I crossed the street and ran into a friend outside the bar when Maureen's partner came out and said, 'You need to get the eff out of here; I am going to call the cops on you.' I told her, 'This is a public sidewalk and you cannot do that.' She said, 'You do not need to be here' and called me names, so I exchanged names as well. It was a very infuriating moment and I remember her saying I was loitering for cigarettes but I had literally just come from the 7-Eleven with cigarettes and wine in my bag. As a Black bisexual woman, I felt racially profiled and targeted, and it was infuriating."

In a moving moment near the end of the protest, Andersonville resident Nic Lawson, called on participants to sit down in silence with their hands raised for eight minutes and 46 seconds—the amount of time white now-former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on Floyd's neck. Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder, and three other officers have also been charged.

Lawson—who said she is both Native American and Black but passes as white—called on everyone to contact Ald. Matt Martin ( 47th Ward ), who she said did not respond to her queries about this situation, and demand action on his part. She also told the white members of the crowd they had blinders on due to their privilege. Lawson called on them to chant "Black Lives Matter," "No Justice No Peace" and reminded them that Taylor's birthday would have been June 5, and to say her and Floyd's names.

Additionally, Lawson said this injustice is white people's fault and it is incumbent on them to educate their fellow white people about racial justice.

Lawson asked who in the crowd was LGBT; many people clapped in the affirmative. Lawson then said they owe their freedom to love to Black and Brown trans women who led the fight for LGBT liberation.

As Lawson was talking, a young Black person said "I deserve to be here," eliciting cheers from the crowd. He also told the crowd that he appreciated everyone coming out in support of his community.

Throughout the protest, six Chicago Police officers stood along the side of the 7-Eleven across the street and two Chicago Police Department vehicles ( one featuring the rainbow Pride flag colors ) were parked on Western Ave. under the nearby Brown Line L stop.

All protestors practiced social distancing and wore masks due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Water and snacks were also provided by a few protestors.

See windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Spyners-Pub-owner-posts-racist-screed-on-Facebook-apologizes-later/68662.html and windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/CMSA-refusing-donations-from-Spyners-after-racist-message-/68664.html .

See facebook.com/events/s/protest-spyners-pub-call-to-ac/3410781398940966/ for information on continuing actions.


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