Despite no evidence of legal wrongdoing, the Rev. Jesse Jackson wants a Lake Barrington gun plant shut down.
Jackson, founder and CEO of the Chicago-based Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, will at noon today lead a protest in front of D.S. Arms, a gun manufacturer that's been registered in Lake Barrington since 1998.
More than 30 protests to ban assault weapons are planned today around the country. Stopping gun manufacturing would halt illegal distribution of firearms, which feeds into the illegal drug trade, Jackson argues.
"This is not about Barrington; it's about gun death, and gun manufacturing," Jackson said.
Jackson wants residents to be aware of the gun plant and rally against it. He spoke Monday night at Barrington United Methodist Church in Barrington Hills. He blamed the illegal gun trade for mass slayings like the ones in Columbine and Virginia Tech.
Society has become desensitized to inner city gun violence, and the suburbs need to take notice, Jackson said.
"We don't make guns in the city of Chicago," he said. "We don't manufacture death."
Monday, someone answering the phone at D.S. Arms said they were reserving comment until after the rally. D.S. Arms, at 27W900 Industrial Ave. in Lake Barrington, makes military and police assault weapons, Jackson said.
In-state events are also planned today for Evanston and Springfield. The rally coincides with the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, where civil-rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke. Jackson noted that King met with President John F. Kennedy Jr. before the speech. The two were killed with high-powered weapons like the ones Jackson wants to ban.
The protests also coincide with the 1955 slaying of Emmett Till, a black Chicago teenager who was shot in the head after whistling at a white woman. The all-white jury instantly acquitted the two white suspects.
"The assassination aroused the consciousness of an entire nation," Jackson said.
Jackson also differentiated assault weapons from guns used to hunt deer.
"These weapons are for people hunting," Jackson said.
Lake Barrington Village President Kevin Richardson will take part in today's protest. But he stressed the Lake County sheriff's office has not reported any problems with D.S. Arms. He did not say he would support or oppose the plant shutting down, and said his village manager has spoken with officials from the plant.
But if the village did hear of any problems, they would "swiftly and immediately take action," Richardson said. Richardson mentioned July's discovery of 30,000 marijuana plants at a nearby Cook County forest preserve as an example.
"It's all a matter of public safety," he said.
Assault weapons were banned in 1994 by President Bill Clinton, but in 2004 the ban ended.
"Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney allowed the sun to set," Jackson said.
Barrington Hills Village President Robert Abboud is a proud gun owner but supports banning assault weapons. Abboud, whose family is longtime friends with Jackson, won't be participating in today's protest, saying he felt uncomfortable with targeting a law-abiding business.
Abboud added the problems isn't just urban. If Barrington Hills doesn't aid neighboring towns that are having difficulties with gun control, Abboud said his village will be susceptible to the same problems.
Church officials in Barrington Hills decided on Friday to host the event, as they were approached by officials from other churches affiliated with Jackson. Barrington United has no longstanding history with Jackson or Rainbow/PUSH.
"We want a cooperative effort to keep our children safe whether we live in the city or suburbs," Barrington United pastor the Rev. Jim Wilson said. "The issue concerns all of us whether we are black or white, rich or poor."