CHICAGO (CBS) — One by one, little boys and girls took turns smashing a piñata shaped like an ICE officer.
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The event was organized by a chamber of commerce comprised of over 25 East Side businesses. A representative said they never would have imaged their event would cause commotion.
But one the people behind the group that brought the piñata said they were banking on making a statement during East Side Community Day in Chicago.
“Some parents were holding their kids to hit the piñata,” said Anthony Martinez of Los Brown Berets.
Pictures posted on social media show several other children in line waiting to take a swing at the political piñata. Many Facebook commenters applauded the idea while others were in disagreement, calling the activity ignorant, disrespectful and teaching the young to hate.
“It was not meant in a negative way at all towards law enforcement,” said Martinez, who leads the Chicago chapter of Los Brown Berets, a nationwide activist group aimed at overcoming inequalities against Chicanos.
Martinez said his organization bought a Batman piñata and transformed it into a Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer.
“We’re just making a statement” that the federal government’s recent actions regarding deportation are wrong, Martinez said.
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At the same event, children were offered a chance to throw balls at a painted image of President Trump.
“And it affected the event, and that’s OK,” said Marvin Covington of the East Side Chamber of Commerce.
“It wasn’t told to me, ‘Hey, there’s going to be an ICE piñata coming, but it was there,” he said.
The organizers of the mid-July event meant to be fun and family-oriented is now creating factions within the community. When asked whether there would be ICE piñatas present next year, Martinez couldn’t say.
“That’s not for me to say, because I didn’t know they were coming this year,” Martinez said.
Covington told CBS 2 that despite the surprise piñata, the event was a success and they do intend on continuing the tradition of community day next year.
Martinez said the proceeds from the controversial kids’ activities will go towards helping asylum seekers.