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One of the most impressive points during the hearings on the proposed closing of Crane High School held at Malcolm X College on the evening of January 6, 2012, was that Crane's supporters were able to expose what critics have been calling "Rahm's Rent-A-Protest" and "Rent-A-Preacher" during the event. The more than 100 people who were bused in to support CPS officials for the closing of Crane call came from the South Side, a large number (if not all) of them brought together by one preacher from one church: Rev Roosevelt Watkins, whose church is in Chatham.

"It was an unreal event tonight at the Malcolm X Crane hearing," said Marty Ritter, an organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union. Donald Fraynd was the MC of the even, and Jesse Ruiz of the Board was present. Around 200 rental protesters were bused in to support the CPS position but were exposed before the evening was over.

CPS's internal "turnaround" chieftan Donald Fraynd (above, second from right) has been no more successful at managing the vicious turnarounds that are under the control of CPS administrators than he was as principal of Jones College Prep High School, which he left abruptly three years ago at the time the Local School Council was likely to have no renewed his contract. Fraynd immediately landed the job of "turnaround" chief under then Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman. By February 2010 (above), Fraynd was one of the witnesses for CPS who narrated from the Power Point that outlined the destruction of Marshall High School, the slanders against the Marshall teaching staff, and the ultimate firing of most Marshall teachers and other staff (including lunchroom workers, engineers, and janitors) are part of "turnaround.' At the time the above photograph was taken during the Marshall hearing on February 1, 2010, Fraynd was chief officer in the new "Turnaround" "Area" established by then CEO Ron Huberman. To Fraynd's right is Ryan Crosby, who was the 2010 choice of the CPS administration to read from the Power Point script attacking Marshall as a "failing school" and proposing "turnaround." Like most of those from the CPS Office of Accountability, Crosby read the scripts for one year during the Hit List hearings and then disappeared from public sight. Because the Hit List hearings do not allow the presentation of evidence or the cross examination of witnesses like Fraynd and Crosby, they amount to kangaroo courts processing what has always been a "Done Deal" on behalf of Chicago's rulers. Behind Fraynd and Crosby (above) were various other CPS officials at the time, all of whom were present and supporting the attacks on Marshall High School and the other public schools that were humiliated and subjected to "turnaround" from the Ron Huberman 2010 Hit List. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.

According to several teachers and Crane supporters present, many of those supporting the CPS position looked like crack heads and drunks mostly.

"They didn't know why they were there, but all said they got paid," Ritter continued. "Around 200 Crane supporters: community allies, students, alums, staff were there to oppose the Crane changes. The "Crane Coalition" had prepared a Power Point presentation, but we were told by Donald Fraynd we could not present it..." Ritter said.

crane closing meeting jan 5 2012
Above, some of the more than 400 people who filled the gym at Malcolm X College on January 6, 2012, for the hearing on the proposed "phase out" of Chicago's Crane High School. Once the Rent-A-Protesters were silenced, it was clear the vast majority were opposed to the inclusion of Crane on Rahm Emanuel's 2012 Hit List. Substance photo by Marty Ritter.

As happens at most of these hearings, the Board presented its Power Point first. After the initial Board presentation, between ten and fifteen Crane presenters engaged in civil disobedience and stood at the mike, made a statement about presenting the Power Point, and then stood silently.

"This was extremely effective, as our crew and the rental protesters began to shout together: "Show the Power Point!", Ritter continued. "This went speaker after speaker for 20-30 minutes. Jesse Ruiz and CPS didn't know what to do. Finally they relented and let us show our stuff that refuted tons of the CPS data. The place erupted as we began to win the hearts and minds, even of the bused in folks. CPS looked confused and worried."

"But it got better," Ritter continued. "At that point, the West Side public officials walked in together — State Senator Annazette Collins, Alderman Walter Burnett, Congressman Danny Davis, former Alderman Ed Smith, and Alderman Bob Fioretti. Fioretti was wearing a Crane Varsity Letterman's Jacket — the place goes nuts for this. They spoke one by one stating their position supporting Crane staying open and opposed to phase out! They told CPS — listen to the people. Congressman Davis seemed more on the neutral side, but he said his job was to listen to the people and he said the people were demanding Crane to stay open. The bussed in people by that time were either silent or on our side. A good number of current and former students, parents and community reps then spoke."

"Then it got even better, if such were possible," Ritter continued. "Mark Clark who had been a thorn in everyone's side came up to me and said "We are on the same side", and said he wanted expose the bused in people. His turn on the mike came, and he turned to the crowd and asked "What neighborhood are you from? People respond "...the hundreds, Englewood, Roseland", etc. — all from the far South Side. Clark started saying, "The mayor paid off your pastor big bucks and what did you get?" His talking points remain true to exposing the bused in people and their leaders.

They started shouting and fighting among themselves, security ask some to leave, and then many more leave on their own. The rent a protest had departed, leaving just the Crane people in the auditorium.

CPS's Donald Fraynd tried to call on the Rent A Protest folks who or were leaving, asking if they want to speak and they all say "NO!" After that person after person told CPS - "Dont phase out Crane!"

Then 8pm arrived and CPS "high tailed it outta there." The CRane people counted "Round 1 victory."

At least one orchestrator of the Rent A Protest was Rev. Roosevelt Watkins, who was asked by a Substance reporter what he was doing there and where he was from. Watkins is past of the Bethlehem Star M.B. Church, which is 9231 South Cottage Grove on Chicago's far south side. Bethlehem Star is more than ten miles from Crane, and not one of the protesters bused in by Rev. Watkins was from the West Side or the Crane community.

Past Posts Regarding Renting Protestors
- Rahm's Rent-A-Protest pickets outside CPS
- Chicago Public Schools sponsor Christian breakfast to promote CPS push for longer school day


Mon Jan 09, 2012 at 12:27 AM PT: The Retired Principal (RP) said 9 hours, 17 minutes ago
Dear Anonymous, Rev. Roosevelt Watkins is the pastor of the Bethlehem Star M.B. Church, which is located at 9231 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago, IL. 60619,, on the far south side. P.S.- When I left the Dyett meeting at the Hayes Center there were two yellow school buses that carried the Rent-A-Protest people. There was a drunk man sitting next to the first of the yellow school buses, that had transported the Rent-A-Protest people. I was informed by a CPS official at the Dyett meeting that the Crane meeting at Maxcolm X College was let out early because of a problem!

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