Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video)
The other day I attempted to return a couple of video rentals to my local Blockbuster only to find that King Drive (my normal route) had been blocked off by the Chicago Police Department. I couldn’t tell at first if it were an accident, but it didn’t appear to be. In the distance, I noticed a large crowd lining the street. I was a bit annoyed as I was already running late, but I quickly took a detour and found an alternate route. A similar occurrence had happened just a couple of nights prior.
Last Thursday, I went to pick up something from a friend of mine in the Hyde Park area and again the street adjacent to his building was blocked off and parking on one side of the street had been shut off, but I somehow miraculously found a parking spot that had just opened directly across the street from my friend’s house. When I got out of my car and walked toward my buddy’s building, I noticed large Black SUVs lining one side of the street just beyond a police barricade and another large crowd directly across from the vehicles standing…patiently waiting. I could visibly see the majority of the crowd was press and media. Who were they waiting for??? Why all the fuss? What’s with all the street blockades? Welcome to life living near The First Family.
If you live in or near the Hyde Park area, like I do, you know very well that ever since President-Elect Barack Obama had announced his candidacy for presidency, his Kenwood home has been under 24-hour police surveillance. Even residents of the area have to go through a thorough check if they are passing through or having company. Security was beefed up several months ago after a man was caught with a gun outside the Obama home after he told police he wanted to speak with the then presidential hopeful about a job.
Until recently, I would often take 51st Street, a regular route for me, to visit friends or handle business in the Hyde Park/Kenwood area, and would joke to friends that I didn’t even want to look in the direction of the Obamas home for fear of being stopped and interrogated. Now, I don’t have to worry about that.
The police barricades have been visibly extended since last Tuesday’s successful election win and for good reason. My route of 51st Street has now been completely shut off and only allows thru traffic of local residents. A window repair salesman who came to my house the other day joked about how his company almost couldn’t complete an installation in the President-Elect’s area because their installer had to pass through several checkpoints in order to get to the residence.
As I will admit, it has taken some adjustment on my part, getting used to the latest detours in my local travel, some of them happening at random albeit, but I honestly don’t mind the slight inconvenience and appreciate the fact that careful security precautions and protection is being given to our nations’ first Black President and the First Family. I feel a certain sense of pride knowing that history was made in the city I call home. If that means taking 55th or 47th Street, Indiana or Cottage Grove to get to my destination, that’s what’s up!