They came from all over the City of Springfield and from around the County. Bar owners, Restaurant owners, Waiters, Waitresses, Cooks, Dishwashers, all armed with a message for City Council and other Leaders.
Joining these moms, dads, grandparents and kids, were many residents of the community asking if they can stand with us and hold a sign. There were about 125 people representing the establishments plus the many local residents.
The people here surrounded city hall greeting Alderman and Officials as they entered the building for the nights City Council meeting. Several of the Alderman, like Chuck Redpath, as well as other Alderman and City Treasurer Misty Busher as well as other City Officials came back outside in a show of support for all small businesses in the City and County. All saying we have to keep our small businesses open and people working.
Ward 9 Alderman Jim Donelan could be heard responding to the those gathered. "I needed to see this" As he went into City Hall.
The peaceful protest did send a strong message. All these people wanted to do is let their elected officials see their faces, hear there stories.
However, those inside city hall let rally goers know that three of the Council Members saw the large gathering outside and decided not to attend the Council Meeting in person, but instead join by a Zoom Call avoiding the people.
That left many at the rally wondering. If they can't face the people that elected them, then why are they there in office?
All during the Rally, the community showed support to the folks here wanting to be heard. Up and down the street those driving honked there horns in a nod of support. Even City Buses driving by gave everyone a toot.
People walking, dropped by letting the group know that the community is with them.
The Group was also here to show support for Mayor Jim Langfelder and the Alderman who are supporting keeping businesses safely open and people working.
During a Press Conference this week the Mayor stated, "we hear a lot about restaurants and bars on COVID, but you know what the number one cause of COVID outbreaks are?" He asked. " Private house parties" He powerfully said.
The Mayor is exactly right. Uncovered Data revealed by an NBC Investigation into what the Network called Governor Pritzkers secrete COVID files shows just that.
Those files obtained by NBC show that Restaurants and Bars are not the leading cause of the spread of COVID. In fact they are the least. Instead, House Parties, Graduations, Weddings, Nursing homes and Prisons are the leading cause of sources of outbreaks .
The Secrete files were so secrete the information was not even shared with Local Officials. DATA again showing that Bars and Restaurants are not to blame. That confirmed by the Director of Public Health.
So the question is if the DATA is showing Restaurants and Bars are not the Result of COVID outbreaks then why are these establishments being targeted?
We have to go back to an October 25th meeting Establishment owners had with elected officials and health officials. It was at this meeting the answer was made clear as shocking as it was.
"BECAUSE WE CAN"
Mayor Jim Langfelder quickly announced, that while he supports the Governor's Efforts, He can not support another shutdown. He along with Sangamon County Officials have decided to allow establishments to remain open. But ask that they follow rules, most of which have been followed. Again, the reason behind the low outbreak rate at Bars and Restaurants.
At last nights City Council Meeting, city leaders were to discuss and were asked to get behind the Mayors efforts to save local businesses and jobs.
While Alderman did support the Mayor a few did not stating they were upset that the Mayor made the decision in the first place without talking to them, so because of that, they would not support him now.
These people were disappointed in those comments by some Alderman, the same that would not attend the meeting in person because of the citizens gathered outside wanting to be heard. To those gathering outside of City Hall, Those Alderman not supporting the Mayor have made their argument political. They feel it's that political dance that is destroying local lives.
They Mayor says even still he is pushing forward and not abandoning the local business which have been the fabricate of the community for decades. He told the Journal Register that he has the authority under his emergency powers to implement the contents of his resolution on his own and that he plans to sign an emergency order in the coming days reflecting that.
To many it's clear that the Mayor has a full understanding, as do Alderman like Chuck Redpath and others, that watching business after business close is not only devesting to the businesses, but to the City and many families. They understand that is not the solution in defeating COVID.
The Mayor has put in place more requirements jointly with Sangamon County. Again most establishments have been doing what the Mayor is asking. But the additional measures the establishments agree will be enforced. "We are not only fighting for out lives, but for our community" one rally goer stated.
In fact, going back to the DATA that was uncovered, since shutdowns began the number of cases have risen due to private house parties. People are gathering in larger groups at their homes and not at restaurants and bars which are enforcing all safety requirements to combat COVID. The result higher COVID cases. "Let us be part of the solution for we are trained professionals in our industry on serving people keeping them safe, We are not the problem, we are part of the solution to cut back on these causes of outbreaks like house parties", Another Rally goer stated.
As part of being part of the solution local establishments are asking to be part of the discussion. Since decisions are being made on an industry very few leaders understand. Establishments are asking to be part of decision process. In other words be part of the solution that helps our entire city, and not target one over another, as is now being done.
Establishments want the community to know that they, as they always have been, are here for the community. They are asking that the community be with them not vilify them based off of what has clearly become flawed DATA while the True DATA has been kept from local officials and citizens.
Establishments are also calling on leaders and organizations to stop targeting them. For example in recent days the Sangamon County Democratic Party put on its website a list of restaurants and bars calling on people to boycott them. Calling those owners " Whiny Entitled Owners." which prompted these T-Shirts to be made and worn by many owners at the City Hall Rally.
"That was heart breaking. We hosted many of their campaign and party functions at our places. To see a major political party turn on us is disheartening. " One small business owner said.
Another example is at least one City Leader posting on their FaceBook page numbers to call to report businesses and bars. Asking citizens to become police not knowing the circumstances of what may have been going on at the moment in the business.
"For an elected official to call for citizens to become police can incite violence. Instead of calling for the demise of a business and confrontation, why not reach out to that business and work with them to do better. That's a true leader." Another Rally goer said.
Restaurants and Bar owners want the Community to be a Community. Be nice to each other, work with each other, look out after each other, but don't vilify anyone. After all we are all in this together.
Thank you Mayor and All elected officials We stand Ready to Work with you. Will you work with us?
To our Community.