Jamie Hernandez organized a march in Mt. Greenwood to support police officers four years ago, and when she did the same this year, the turnout was almost four times larger.
Hernandez, a Mt. Greenwood resident, led a walk down 111th Street on the evening of Aug. 2 in which about 400 people streamed from Kedzie Avenue about a half mile west into Mt. Greenwood Park despite heavy rainfall.
Hernandez was grateful for the support, which came after a tragic week for the Chicago Police Department.
“It was a massive turnout for the weather and for the little bit of notice,” Hernandez said. “I know that the three officers were shot this week, and Officer Boyd passing away this week probably brought out some extra people. Emotions are high right now, so I think it’s important for us all to be together.”
Three officers were shot while arresting a carjacking suspect on the Northwest Side on July 30, and CPD Deputy Chief Dion Boyd took his own life on July 28.
As they walked down 111th Street with police guiding the march, participants, most of them holding umbrellas, cheered and donned pro-police apparel, including the American flag featuring a thin blue line.
Hernandez organized the event with the help of the Fraternal Order of Police-Chicago Lodge 7 Family Auxiliary, of which she is a member as her husband is a Chicago police officer.
As hundreds of people gathered at Mt. Greenwood Park, 3721 W. 111th St., she offered a prayer and told attendees that organizing a walk was important to her.
“I just felt compelled,” she said. “Something came over me.”
CPD Sgt. Brian O’Connor, of the 22nd District, spoke to the crowd briefly in celebrating his impending retirement, expressing support for the community he lives in and served.
Four years ago, Hernandez’ walk consisted of about 100 people and also ended at Mt. Greenwood Park.
She wants to cast a positive light on the CPD.
“I would like to see some support from the city. We have to live here, too,” she said. “Every single one of these people is a Chicago resident. Our families have to live here.
“I would to see some more positive stuff in the news. There’s not enough positive stuff—they’re always saving babies and doing [heroic] stuff, and you don’t see any of that. You only get the bad stuff. That’s where I would start if I were changing things.
“But I’m not anyone of power. I’m just a mom on the South Side.”