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Hope Covenant Church in Orland Park hosted a community event Saturday to promote love, unity and justice, in a conversation led by 3rd District U.S. House candidate Marie Newman.
Newman, a Democrat, is one of three challengers to Democratic incumbent Dan Lipinski in the March 17 primary.
Christian Perry (from left), a political organizer, listens as Dave Metz of LINK Unlimited Scholars talks social justice while Deigo Garcia, a gun violence prevention activist and Suzanne Amra, the assistant principal at Peck Elementary School in Chicago, listen.
Meanwhile, outside with temperatures dipping to near freezing, Republican 3rd District hopeful and Nazi sympathizer Art Jones, along with a handful of supporters, held signs promoting white nationalism.
Jones, a perennial candidate, said he was upset Newman attacked him in the press, so he feels obligated to speak out against her. He called her “anti-white,” “neo-Marxist” and a “fanatic.”
But Newman’s criticism is not alone. The Illinois Republican Party has also spoken out against Jones, and he said he’d like to protest them, too.
“I would if I could find them,” Jones said.
Jones, a Holocaust denier, said he’s no longer a Nazi though he does respect the ideology.
“I’m not denouncing Nazism, I’m just not a member anymore,” he explained.
Jones has an unlikely path to success.
The district voted for Lipinski 163,053 against Jones’ 57,885 in the last General Election, though Jones said he still believes he has a chance at beating whoever the Democratic challenger will be.
One protesters against Jones was Katie van Wormer, who said she was driving by and had to pull over to join the handful of protesters against candidate.
“I heard about it, and then I drove by and saw him,” she explained. “There can’t be more people on the side of Nazis than on the anti-Nazi side.”
As Jones and his supporters yelled at counter protesters outside, inside Hope Covenant Church about 30 people assembled to talk about how to promote social justice across the 3rd Congressional District, which includes part of Chicago and extends south and west.
A panel included a gun prevention activist, a political organizer and Suzanne Amra, the assistant principal at Peck Elementary School in Chicago.
Newman spoke out against bullying, among other issues, explaining schools need to do a better job of teaching social and emotional learning. Newman said schools can teach children be more just and fair and the federal spending should reward schools that promote social and emotional learning.
“We can legislate fairness,” she said. “We can.”
Newman said public education must include social education.
“We need to embed in every single subject cultural training and religious training,” she said.
Newman explained that children who are taught these skills end up objectively better off in the workplace as adults.
The Rev. Jon Fogel, pastor of First Covenant Church, said he was happy to host Newman’s event. While federal by law churches cannot promote political campaigns, he said a conversation on peace and justice is exactly what his church will support.
“We don’t support any political campaign here but you know what we support? We support peace,” Fogel said.
Fogel said his church has no place for Jones’ rhetoric.
“We’re anti white supremacy,” he said. “If you’re for white supremacy you probably wouldn’t fit in here. We’re gonna talk about our love for all people.”
Newman lost to Lipinski by 2.2 percentage points in the 2018 Democratic Primary, but her campaign manager Ben Hardin said she is hopeful of a victory this year, as Lipinski has grown more in line with mainstream Republican values.
Though Lipinski voted in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump, he was one of just two House Democrats among more than 200 Republican members of Congress who signed onto an amicus brief filed in the June Medical Services v. Gee case, regarding a Louisiana law requiring doctors who provide abortion care to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
The brief asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade and other precedents.
“I don’t think it’s surprising,” said Hardin. “I think he’s backed himself into a corner.”
“This is a blue district,” Hardin said. “This is a very democratic district. The district went for Bernie in 2016, I think Hillary won by 13 points in the general. It’s a very blue district.”
Lipinski defended his action in signing the brief and announced this week endorsements from 28 municipal mayors.