President Obama's trip back to his home in Chicago for a long weekend meant that reporters went along to keep tabs on POTUS - President Of The United States - and that didn't sit too well with one local resident.
The Obamas went to a neighbor's house for a backyard barbeque on Saturday evening, so the White House Pool reporters dutifully sat in their van just down the street.
That's when the fun began in front of a house that's about 2+ blocks from the Obama's home.
These reports were sent back by New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes.
Pool Report 5:
At 7:20 local time the pool was holding at Woodlawn and 49th, next to a large sandstone mansion that the Chicago reporters say is the home of one Louis Farrakhan. Our Secret Service agent allowed us off the bus (Air!) and as a dozen of us congregated on the sidewalk, inevitably some shoes touched grass. Immediately a polite man in jeans and Tshirt emerged to ask us to stay off the grass. Though this grass was the curbside city property, we obliged.
Soon, however, he was pacing and talking on a cell phone. He went inside the mansion's black wrought iron fence, crossed the well-landscaped yard, lifted a water bucket behind rose bushes and, voila!, a walkie-talkie. He was heard to refer to "the CIA" once he began speaking into it.
Soon he approached our agent, asking him to move the van and its occupants, though your pooler could not hear much else he said. But the agent said, "How is this a security breach?" And he asked if the house was a government property.
The man said something else and at that point the agent stuck out his hand to shake hands and introduced himself as a Secret Service agent. He added, "Sir, I can assure you that we will do nothing to interfere with whatever is going on in there."
The man is back to pacing and talking on his cell, walkie-talkie in hand.
A co-pooler searched the Internet for the address and found it listed on a Web site called NotForTourists and another called Taxexemptworld.com.
Indeed, another pooler found a county Web site that confirmed this property is tax exempt for being a religious institution.
Reinforcements arrived--three men in Tshirts reading "Wide or Die!" One surly man has been staring daggers at us. Asked if this is Minister Farrakhan's house, he just stared at your pooler. Asked again, he said, "I don't have no comment."
White House Pool Report 5a
It's 8:45 and nearly dark; your pool has retreated back inside the van. We're outnumbered now by roughly a dozen Fruit of Islam agents for the Nation of Islam. As each casually dressed man arrives, he exchanges elaborate handshake/hug/double air-kisses with others. Two walked by your pooler chanting "Islam."
Several have filmed and photographed your poolers, the van and its license plates with their cell phones.
One came and stood close to a couple poolers and OUR agent. He asked if he could help. No answer. He asked again. The man said no. The agent said, "Secret Service -- Please move away from this group of people."
Soon the agent asked us to go in the bus.
But several poolers, hearing the call of nature, are asking whether they might ask the Fruit about using their bathroom.
Still holding. No pun intended.
White House Pool Report 5b
9:20 local time and our agent got reinforcements from three Secret Service agents. One shook hands with one of the 22 Fruit members we now can count from the van. After a short discussion the three Secret Service agents walked away again.
No word on when we get to leave. We're guessing POTUS is watching the Blackhawks game at the Nesbitts' home.
White House Pool Report 5c
The power of pool reportage! Standoff ends, apparently with help of intermediary in Detroit:
Your pooler got a call at about 10:15 local time from a pool report reader who identified himself as the Rev. Gary Hunter, a Baptist minister in Motown who writes and blogs for the Detroit Times. He said he had called Minister Farrakhan and his son and asked them to have the Fruit stand down.
"I told him you were good people," Rev. Hunter said. "He said he didn't know you all were just waiting for the president."
As it happens, the FOI indeed had mostly gone by then. The Rev Hunter apparently is remembered by Ms. Tubman, and he said he knows our frequent press rustler Ben Finkenbinder from past travels with Obama, and -- sorry, Ben -- could he make that name up?
Anyway, at 10:33 we pulled away and we are at the Obama residence. Never saw Potus et al.
WE HAVE A FULL LID.
President Obama's trip back to his home in Chicago for a long weekend meant that reporters went along to keep tabs on POTUS - President Of The United States - and that didn't sit too well with one local resident. The Obamas went to a neighbor's house for a backyard ...