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ROGERS PARK — After citywide uproar about a planned “men’s rights” group meetup in Rogers Park Saturday, the group has canceled the event.
The rally, originally scheduled at a flagpole near Devon Avenue and Sheridan Road at the border of Rogers Park and Edgewater Saturday at 8 p.m., was part of “International Tribal Meetup Day” in which followers of the Return of Kings blog were supposed to heed the call of their leader, blogger Roosh Valizadeh, 36, who has previously written about the concept of “legal rape,” though he later tweeted that it was “satire.”
Groups across Chicago, including Loyola University, Ald. Joe Moore (49th) and the group Rape Victim Advocates, have denounced the group for being rape apologists and advocating for gender-based violence. Valizadeh has previously written that he believes sexual assault victims are “playing the rape card,” saying the definitions of rape are too stringent in America.
Wednesday night, Valizadeh announced on his site that since he “can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend … there will be no official Return Of Kings meetups.”
He added, “I can’t stop men who want to continue meeting in private groups,” and, “I apologize to all the supporters who are let down by my decision.”
A local feminist group planned to preempt the meetup with a public protest, urging supporters to “show up in droves ready to stand up for gender justice as [“men’s rights activists”] slink away into the shadows to bemoan how tough it is to have most of the privileges existent in a patriarchal society.”
The group planned other rallies across the country and internationally as well, including in suburban Homewood. The owner of Balagio Ristorante in Homewood, not enthused about the prospect of the group breaking bread at his restaurant, asked the police to send “a couple squads,” according to Chicagoist.
After widespread community uproar, Moore’s chief of staff issued a statement reminding his constituents that Valizadeh and his followers had a constitutional right to assemble. But, he said, “they do not have a right to inflict actual physical violence upon anyone, and I am told the police will be closely monitoring their activity.”
The “international call” for the gatherings inspired searing backlashes all over the world, from Canada to Texas to Australia. International hacker group Anonymous also promised to shut down the group’s website, and they apparently succeeded Wednesday afternoon.
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