Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Trouble In The Stands - Chicago Fans v Security - A Fan's Perspective

Our friend Dan G brings us his point of view on the struggle between a group of Chicago Fire fans, and Toyota Park stadium security. These are his words:

I have been a Chicago Fire supporter and Section 8 partisan since day one. While the fans in the stadium have always represented the ethnic diversity (as has the team itself) of Chicago there have been off again on again problems with racism at Fire matches.Over the years these issues have been tackled head on and Section 8 has become more unified because of it. Bruce has linked to the most recent troubles involving Monterrey Security and one of Section 8's quickest growing and loudest supporter groups, Sector Latino. S.L. were removed as a WHOLE GROUP for arguments that were happening with Chivas fans at the Fire/Chivas U.S.A.. Although no fights happened every one in Sector Latino (easily identified by red shirts with their crews name on it) was marched out of the stadium en masse and racist slurs like wetback and spic were used by some members of security.

Afterward Section 8 met with Fire representatives to resolve the situation and propose a re-organization of security around Section 8 in the style of D.C. United or Red Bulls. The Fire's position was that there was no problem. This stance was very frustrating for Sector Latino and all of Section 8. It was decided to stage a silent protest during the first half of last weeks Fire/D.C. match.It seemed all of Section 8 agreed with this tactic and there was widespread support for our brothers and sisters in S.L.

At the game various crews within Section 8 (shout out to the Shandy Sisters and NAME REDACTED AT THE REQUEST OF MEMBERS!!) had printed up over 225 t-shirts as a show of visible solidarity. There were fliers printed up in English and Spanish explaining the situation and a multilingual (English, Polish, Spanish, Irish/Gaelic) banner stating "No Racism In Our House". We took time during the tailgate to walk around, pass out the fliers and talk to fellow Fire fans about the situation at hand and the protest which was to take place. People were very receptive and a few had there own tales of discrimination at the hands of Monterrey.

Once inside the stadium I was met with an eerie silence as I approached Section 8. Instead of the usual raucous noise there were over 1,500 fanatics sitting down and quiet! It was an overwhelming show of unity and support. The game started and other fans throughout the stadium tried to get some cheers and songs going but it was clear that the silence had altered the atmosphere significantly.

A few minutes in Sector Latino and a couple folks unfurled a banner and signs decrying racism. Immediately security came barreling in and snatched them all away to the jeers of "culero" (a-hole in Espanol). One of the signs only joked "Blanco is my Drinking Buddy" after Blanco called S.L. drunks...most of them are in high school or under 21. This harsh move by security created a very tense vibe within the section and had us looking over our shoulders to see what might come next.

Around the 30th minute S.L. rose and began to sing and chant their love for the Chicago Fire. The plan was for the rest of Section 8 to remain silent out of respect and solidarity to S.L.. This also highlighted their contribution to the game and showed their passion as fans. They continued on their own for the rest of the first half.

At the half my brother and I (as well as others) fliered the west half of the stadium and were again met with great support and approval from fellow Fire fans outside of Section 8. We had many great conversations and folks were clearly concerned with the situation. Once the 2nd half started the Section joined the Sector Latino crew and things were almost back to the usual. The main difference being that there were no flags,drums or trumpet as these things were now being restricted by the Fire. Another large banner against racism was unfurled and again Monterrey came in and took it away. At this time it was noticed that an official from MLS was positioned above the Section watching all of the goings on.

After the match was over sector Latino walked out together and were supported by many Section 8 regulars. At this time the multilingual banner I mentioned before was unfurled at the top of the concourse so departing fans could see it. Maybe it was because mostly white fans held this banner but security did not try and take it. Sector Latino left the stadium and commenced with their traditional post-game mosh pit and dance in the parking lot. The mood was celebratory and defiant... even though the Fire lost.

Many people questioned the effectiveness of the silent protest but it cannot be debated that the multiracial show of total unity displayed by Section 8 was impressive. Our culture as fans is one that includes and welcomes all people as we celebrate the game and team we love. Since the game the acting team president, Javier Leon, has contacted Section 8 with a letter that has created some space for discussions to continue in order to resolve the issue of racist treatment by some members of Monterrey Security. There has been talk of a walkout by Section 8 during a match... something that was only done once after the firing of beloved former G.M. Peter Wilt. We hope it won't come to that or any other further escalations but Section 8 is united in support of Sector Latino and that is without question!!


Anonymous Joe J said...

Thanks for this article, Dan. I hope the Fire and MLS work to resolve this issue as it's becoming a serious black eye. Firing Monterrey Security would be the first move, I hope.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Super Rookie said...

Thanks for the write up.

It is embaressing (like my spelling) for MLS and its clubs to allow for treatment like this towards its #1 fans.

What is up with taking away the banners?

5:21 PM  
Blogger Graham Fox said...

It would be nice to see something more done than a neutrally worded letter. I can't believe the Fire management first responded to complaints by banning drums, flags, and banners.

KC may suck as a team right now but at least the management lets lets the Cauldren enjoy the game.

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Demko said...

thank you dan g. a very sad story. viva section 8!

12:49 AM  
Blogger eltiger11 said...

Great Account... The shandy's are scary...

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Want some cheese with your wine????
cry some where else

1:36 PM  

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