Police shut down sections of downtown Northbrook on Sunday, Nov. 12 for an afternoon vigil, counter protest plus a peaceful demonstration by a smaller group, all responses related to the events of Oct. 7 in Israel.
Israel declared war after Hamas militants launched attacks. Most people showing up for the Northbrook events called for the release of hostages by Hamas while a minority of attendees called for a ceasefire.
What was called the “Silent Vigil For The Victims of Hamas” was anything but silent. Some people attending that portion of the event, promoted as a “Counter the Hateful Misinformation!” vigil, were overheard shouting at the smaller group of about 20 individuals who were situated near a table set up at Village Green Park at the corner of Shermer and Meadow roads.
Upon hearing a group might be planning a response presence for a ceasefire, counter response organizers began planning the silent vigil a few days before Nov. 12, said Alison Pure-Slovin, Midwest regional director for the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Chicago.
“This is about terrorism,” Pure-Slovin said. “Now we have 239 people that we have no idea where they are,” Pure-Slovin said.
Some people arrived at 12:30 p.m. and stayed along Village Green Park. Others marched on the sidewalk from the direction of Meadowbrook School west on Walters Avenue to Meadow Road. The weather was sunny and over 50 degrees. Some people wrapped themselves in flags.
Vigil attendee Lana Levit of Northbrook said, “To the world, free the hostages and finish Hamas.”
Anna Tarkov of Northbrook, attending on behalf of familiesforceasefire.org, staffed the table in the park, encouraging children to use sidewalk chalk while engaging with people. The https://familiesforceasefire.org website indicates that Nov. 12 was a National Families Day of Action for Families of Gaza.
There were challengers to Tarkov’s presence and Northbrook police were seen intervening in case the situation became physical after conversations became heated by questions posed.
Protesters behind barricades were heard shouting Anna’s first name and asking why Tarkov was hiding behind a PPE mask. Some cursed at Tarkov and used profanity. Then there were insults to others in the smaller group.
“They’re angry with me because they think that I am supporting Hamas,” Tarkov said. “They think that I don’t care about the hostages. But what I don’t support is the state of Israel and their actions in this matter. I would love for the hostages to be returned.”
One poster holder was heard shouting, “Long live Palestine. Jerusalem is Arabic. Jerusalem is Muslim.”
Northbrook Village President Kathryn L. Ciesla attended the demonstration and responded.
“I think the position of the President (Joe Biden) of the United States is clear that there’s no ceasefire until the hostages are released,” Ciesla said.
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-10th, attended the vigil as the crowds started to disperse. Northbrook police by then had formed a human barricade on Shermer Road facing west to the train tracks. Staff in business storefronts on Shermer Road were seen peering from windows at the spectacle as Shermer Road became closed.
Schneider called Hamas a terrorist organization that, “invaded, killed 1,200 innocent Israelis, torture, rape, horrific, heinous crimes, crimes against humanity with the expressed intent of trying to create a regional, if not a global war.”
Illinois State Sen. Laura Fine said, “In Judaism, there’s a saying, ‘Tikkun olam,’ to repair the world. And right now we need a lot of repair.”