ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The City of Rockford issued a statement Friday morning after receiving complaints over the cancellation of Friday’s City Market due to planned protests.
Rockford City Market announced Thursday that it would be canceling Friday’s event due to the anticipated presence of “aggressive and disruptive” protesters.
Anti-police activists have been staging protests just outside the City Market on Fridays, blocking traffic and using a loud speaker to broadcast speeches and music with explicit lyrics.
“The protesters became increasingly loud and then they started to spit at the cops,” said Renee Radway, owner of Jerk Jammin Grill.
“There’s several times my staff got yelled at for no apparent reason, cursed at, so it’s been frustrating,” said Paul Sletten, Owner of Disco Chicken Food Truck.”
“It is a shame that the protesters’ past behavior, coupled with their recent rhetoric indicating they will be more aggressive, led the operators to this decision,” the City said Friday. “It’s also disappointing that these businesses now must lose revenue – many are 1-3 people shops and women- and minority-owned.”
“In recent weeks, protesters have refused to comply with lawful orders to cease certain behavior, and appear unwilling to do so without our officers having to use physical force. Using force puts our citizens and officers in danger and a situation we chose to avoid at the market,” the statement continued.
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said he’s working with the Rockford Park District so that vendors won’t be impacted any further. Plans may include closing the Joe Marino Park and the Millennial Fountain Park.
“They’re dealing with this small group of individuals who have shown us through their past, poor behavior, in most recently with their dramatic increased violent rhetoric that they almost want to incite violence in our community. That’s not acceptable,” McNamara said. “It is absolutely a shame that these small, and I would even say micro businesses will lose out on revenue.”
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