Local Citizens and Elected Officials Turn Out to Debate Square Protest

Alvin Wire released a statement to Rockford media, but did not address local protesters.

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An estimated 80-90 people participated in Saturday’s Women’s March in downtown Freeport.

The march was coordinated by Sabra Baker and Anjanette Johnson, founding members of the Feminist Freedom Coalition, along with many other volunteers from the Northwest Illinois area. It’s worth noting that everyone in attendance viewed by this reporter was wearing a mask.

Marchers hold signs as they walk through downtown Freeport. Photo by Jody Coss.

Midway through the rally, the group gathered approximately 60-70 of the attendees to participate in a march through downtown Freeport. The march route extended down North State Avenue, down East Stephenson Street, right on North Chicago Avenue, and then the final leg back to Debate Square down East Douglas Street. The marchers making noise and chanting, “Yes means yes, no means no, Alvin Wire has got to go” and “Alvin Wire must retire”, as they passed 9 East Coffee, the Stephenson County Democrats office, and the Stephenson County Farmers Market on East Exchange Street.

The group had guest speakers from the area including Bill Hadley, Chairperson of The Stephenson County Board, Sharon Koch from The Stephenson County League of Women Voters, and Cierra Ardson from Voices of Stephenson County. Several other speakers included introductions by Sabra Baker, Denzel Woodall, Logan Lundberg, and Diane Yochum as well as an open share time where several people shared their own stories of sexual assault, abuse, and disbelief in their stories.

March organizers Sabra Baker and Anjanette Johnson lead demostrators past the Freeport Public Library. Photo by Jody Coss.

Chairperson Hadley spoke to the crowd about everything he’s done as the Chairperson since Wire’s comments were revealed by The Voice of Freeport’s coverage of the comments brought them to light. Hadley told Nick Nunez from The Voice of Freeport that he thought it was important to show up to tell the audience what he can and can’t do as County Board Chairman.

Sharon Koch spoke to the crowd about the importance of the vote and voting for people who represent us and what we believe in. The Voice of Freeport has several interviews we will release throughout the week to bring you more coverage from the Women’s March.

The Women’s March was attended by several local media outlets who covered the story both online and in their evening newscasts.

Alvin Wire did release a prepared statement to at least two stateline media companies saying, “My suggestion was politically incorrect…and I should not have made it. But I have received good support equally divided between men and women. The common response is ‘what you said is the truth.’ Quoted from Lauren Baker’s story on wrex.com last night.

An organizer holds a sign as the group prepares to begin its march through downtown Freeport. Photo by Jody Coss.

As a reminder, Alvin Wire previously told The Voice of Freeport in an email, when asked about his original comments, “That “skin” is deliberately put on display for a purpose–to be looked at, because enticing  an “admiring glance” gives the women an ego boost.  However, if she feels that a man “admires” too long, he is guilty of sex harassment.”

When asked for a response to Mr. Wire’s statement Sabra Baker replied, “Mr. Wire, who are these men and women who agreed with you? By saying it was “politically incorrect” you are being dismissive and insulting the intelligence of the women of Stephenson County. We see through this non-apology. You’ll speak to Rockford media but will not reach out to those that gave you a Direct Action Call. It’s appalling.”

As for the rest of the County Board, Baker continued, “We will continue to demand that Alvin Wire resign. We also demand that each board member take not only sensitivity training but a course on implicit bias. We will not be silenced and we will not back down. If our demands are not met we will continue to apply pressure by whatever means afforded to us as citizens of Stephenson County.”

The Voice of Freeport has emails out to all board members at this hour to get their response to these demands.

We will have continuing coverage of this story in the coming days and weeks as we head towards the next round of County Committee meetings, and of course, the next full Stephenson County Board meeting on August 20th.

Carl Utt is a local Gay Atheist Liberal Democrat Insurance Agent, newly minted citizen journalist/activist, official pain in the ass of elected and unelected officials, and believes we’re currently presented with a “once in a two lifetimes” opportunity to change the world, right now. He can be reached at progressivevisionil@gmail.com or 815-616-5856.