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No Sidewalk Civility in Kenwood as Presidential Press Clash with Fruit of Islam

By JoshMogerman in News on May 30, 2010 5:30PM

Louis Farrakhan House image by reallyboring via Flickr
The tiny enclave of mansions from the last turn of the century that is the Kenwood neighborhood can be a weird place. Current money mixes comfortably with history---this is, after all, where Leopold and Loeb decided they were supermen. Perhaps, more notably, and certainly more recently, only a couple blocks separate two of the nation's most recognizable African American figures: Barack Obama and Louis Farrakhan. The President’s house is typical of the neighborhood’s architecture, while the Minister’s yellow-stoned fa├žade certainly stands out.

Residents in Hyde Park and Kenwood don’t need press reports to tell them when President Obama is home. It is readily noticeable by closures on 51st Street and a vastly increased security presence in the area. And to a lesser extent, a noticeable increase of “Fruit of Islam” security guards on 49th and Woodlawn telegraphs when Minister Farrakhan is in town.

The Sun-Times has play-by-play details from the Presidential press pool showing the very different approach these security contingencies have in dealing with the public as the President attended an event across from Farrakhan’s spread last night. As the Obama family enjoyed a barbecue with friends, reporters and secret service personnel had oddly tense interactions with Farrakhan’s security who objected to someone stepping into the curbside grass, which is city property. An assortment of trivial issues triggered an array of testy exchanges between the Fruit of Islam and the presidential contingent, with Farrakhan’s crew playing the part of the angry old man shouting at kids to get off his lawn---though the press request (assumedly mocking) to use Mr. Farrakhan’s bathroom does seem a bit over the top.