Some words of ‘propaganda’

Scott Gordon

By Scott Gordon

Art’s Last Words

You know you’re doing well when people start cursing your name.

Outgoing First Ward Alderman Arthur Newman called us Sunday and said — as he has said many times in the past — that The Daily is a “propaganda machine” for Northwestern.

What angered him was the following sentence from the Friday installment of our “The New Council” series: “The departure of Ald. Arthur Newman (1st), who often criticized the university’s approach to its dealings with the city, is nearly certain to ease tensions between NU and the council.”

We made a judgment call and we were right. Informed analysis of the news should not be confused with “editorializing.”

Newman told one of the reporters who wrote the story that our coverage is “biased and unfair.” After some more mild guerrilla invective, he hung up, but not before refusing to talk to us anymore, adding sarcastically that University President Henry Bienen would probably be willing to talk to us.

With Newman, business between the city and Northwestern has constantly degenerated into silly, vindictive fighting. I’m not sure if that will change or if that should even be a priority. But it’s a clear sign that Newman didn’t have the scope or temperament to handle his job.

He couldn’t seem to do anything to resolve this goofy little duel inside his ward. City government business always teeters on the edge of ridiculous; Evanston doesn’t need this obsolete feud played out on our lawns like a clumsy Civil War reenactment.

Bar fight or Riot?

Walking south early Friday on Sherman Avenue, I saw University Police and Evanston Police cars converging on the Evanston Shitty Bar District — roughly the 800 block of Grove Street and the 1500 block of Sherman, marked off by The Keg of Evanston, Bar Louie and Prairie Moon. I got to the corner of Sherman and Grove, where I counted 11 cop cars and two ambulances.

According to EPD reports, there had been a fight around 2 a.m. Friday between two men and no one was arrested. There wasn’t much for all these officers to do. A few people were standing around telling each other what had happened or just gawking at all those cars and flashing lights. Otherwise, things had got back to normal again. The CTA 201 bus inched its way up the block as police cruisers occasionally moved from their parking spaces in the lane of traffic.

The first thing I heard was an officer on the sidewalk yelling at spectators: “You’ve been ordered to move, or you go down to the station.” (The EPD station is just around the corner on Elmwood Avenue — not so distant or majestic as an officer can make it sound).

I could see only one cop interviewing people as I walked up and down Sherman. The rest posted themselves along the block and outside the Keg. Rumors had it that there had been a fight in one of these bars. Also, as far as I could tell, it had involved two or three people at most.

I asked an officer standing outside The Keg what happened. “Nothing to worry about,” he said.

Two police departments and a fire department didn’t seem to think so. It looked excessive in this area, which doesn’t draw a crowd that needs much controlling, even if it’s a Thursday night and people are pulling “I’m-not-Mexican-but-I-sure-as-hell-observe-Cinco-de-Mayo!” antics.

Start to finish, it was a display of swift and sweeping overkill without a climax. As I heard one bystander say, a similar fight in Chicago wouldn’t draw anywhere near this many cops. In a college town with a relatively tame party and bar scene, such a response from police was overwhelming and needlessly intimidating.

City Editor Scott Gordon is a Medill junior. He can be reached at [email protected]