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Monday, November 19, 2012

Alsip Long Tradition Drops Holiday Cross Over Lawsuit Threat

A Wisconsin-based foundation threatened to sue the village over the display of a cross used in Christmas decorations. The Freedom from Religion Foundation said the village's Holiday Cross is "unconstitutional."A cross used as part of the Alsip's holiday decorations for three decades won't be put up this year, according to a letter posted on the village's website.
The letter from Mayor Patrick Kitching states a Holiday Cross decoration used annually on the West Water Tower, located on West 119th Street, won't be installed. The cross has been part of a nearly 35 year tradition for the village.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation threatened to sue the village over the symbol, the Kitching's letter states.
"I am very saddened by this and had hoped we would not have to change tradition," Kitching states in the letter. "However in these economic times, the village cannot afford to waste any tax dollars on a lawsuit that simply cannot be won."
A staff attorney from the Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote the Alsip in December 2011, objecting to a display of a cross on village property. By putting up a Latin cross, Alsip is demonstrating a preference for Christianity over other religions, the organization argues.
The "fundamental principle" of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment, says the government can't "advance, promote or endorse religion," the foundation's letter states. Displaying the cross demonstrates "government endorsements of Christianity, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause."
The letter cites cases brought against other municipalities where federal courts supported the idea that a Christian cross is a religious symbol, according to the foundation's letter. It mentions bringing a lawsuit against the Town of Whiteville, Tenn., over a similar matter.
"No court of final resort has ever upheld the government's permanent display of a Christian cross on public land as constitutional," the letter states.
Alsip chose, instead, not to "waste taxpayer dollars to fight a losing battle in court," according to the village's letter.

Dear Alsip Residents and Business Community,

A tradition for almost 35 years here in the Village of Alsip is coming to an end. You will notice this year our holiday decoration on the West Water Tower (Holiday Cross) will not be erected nor lit. We have an organization out of Wisconsin, Freedom from Religion Foundation, who is threatening a lawsuit for having a holiday symbol that can be construed as a religious decoration. It is considered to be unconstitutional. Other municipalities have been brought to suit regarding this very same issue and have lost. We have chosen not to waste taxpayer dollars to fight a losing battle in court. The holiday cross will be replaced with a different holiday decoration in the future, however, I am not sure this process can be completed in time for Christmas of 2012.

I am very saddened by this and had hoped we would not have to change tradition, however in these economic times, the Village cannot afford to waste any tax dollars on a lawsuit that simply cannot be won.

Thank you for your understanding.

Have the happiest of holidays.


Patrick E. Kitching


2011 Letter from Freedom from Religion

2012 Letter from Freedom from Religion

Deffenceless Doctor was stabbed by a homeless Animal

Lincoln Park zoo Official's stated that their one of a kind savage animal's escaped and is unsure were he went. The zoo provided this picture.

At 7: 50PM the zoo's animal was spotted going in to the Westin Hotel. The animal then went into a bathroom and pulled a knife out on a 67 year old doctor after the doctor refused to give him anything the animal stabbed him repeatedly. Had the doctor had a firearm on him the doctor could have deffended himself and a hotel employee would have not had his chest cut open while trying to chase the offender. Police later caught this animal and placed him in the Cook County zoo at 26th and California while the animal is being charged with one count of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery with intent to do great bodily harm and one count of aggravated unlawful restraint.
The charges stem from an attempted robbery Saturday evening in which a 67-year-old man was stabbed in the neck Saturday evening near the front of the Westin Hotel. All this doctor wanted to do was go with his family and friends to dinner and to watch the parade but in stead he was held up and stabbed. 

The incident began shortly before 8 p.m. when the 67-year-old man was stabbed during an attempted robbery, Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Amina Greer said, citing preliminary information.
A 35-year-old man was cut in the chest as he tried to capture the assailant, Greer said.

Police took Harris into custody following the incident. A weapon was also recovered, Greer said.

The 67-year-old was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where his condition was stabilized, Greer said. The 35-year-old was taken to Northwestern in good condition.

According to the niece of the 67-year-old man, Jameela Ali, 28, of Lincoln Park, she and her uncle were part of a group of seven dining in a restaurant inside the Westin when her uncle was attacked inside a bathroom. She first heard a commotion inside the bathroom, then saw her uncle, badly injured, struggling with another man outside the bathroom.

"His left eye was bruised, totally swollen shut," Ali said. "There was blood gushing from his neck, blood all over his clothes. He looked like he had been punched in the face several times. I started screaming. I didn't know what to do."

Ali's uncle remained at Northwestern as of 1:30 am. Ali said he suffered a laceration to his external jugular vein and received exploratory surgery to ensure there was no further damage.

By 8:30 p.m., crime scene tape surrounded the entrance to the Westin Hotel on Delaware Street and Michigan Avenue with patches of blood visible on the pavement, and two police cars blocked the street.

Managers at the Westin declined to comment late Saturday and early Sunday.

Olivia Morrow, 18, said she and her friend were returning to the hotel around 8 p.m. to meet their parents when they saw police on the scene.

Morrow said shortly after that she saw about five hotel officials running out of the building toward the stairs leading to the Hancock Tower and the neighboring The Cheesecake Factory Restaurant.

"They had radios and phones in their hands, saying that (the attacker) was last seen running down the stairs," Morrow said.

Genevieve Waldron of Michigan City, Ind., was among the crowd waiting for a table outside when she and her mother saw dozens of officers sprinting toward the restaurant from every direction.

"They were obviously looking for somebody and we were trying to stay out of the way," Waldron said.

A few minutes later, two officers came back up the stairs, flanking a man who was handcuffed, and loaded him into the back of a marked car.

Neither The Cheesecake Factory nor the hotel were evacuated, as guests on the south-facing side of the building peered out of the windows to get a view of the scene. There appeared to be little commotion at the restaurant, where diners poured out into the hallways waiting for a table.