Shortly after noon on Wednesday, Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor sentenced to 14 years in prison, was released from federal prison in Colorado. He then made his way back to Chicago where he wasn’t welcomed with open arms.
On his way from the airport to his new apartment in Bronzeville, Blagojevich was greeted by hundreds of protesters who had gathered to denounce his decision to return to the city he once ruled like a dictator. “We don’t want you back,” protesters chanted, forcing Blagojevich to stop in the middle of the street and make his way around the crowd of demonstrators and media. According to The Associated Press, as he continued walking, one protestor heckled him, “You f—ing cheater, this country’s not your f—ing f—ing playground!”
Authorities, meanwhile, were wary about the ability of the former governor to retain control of his former borough. Chief of police Garry McCarthy told reporters, “I think [Blagojevich] will find it a very tough neighborhood to contend with. The good news for Rod Blagojevich … is we have cops here to keep the peace. We are not gonna give him the opportunity to regroup and assess his options.” McCarthy didn’t offer details about plans to crack down on Blagojevich’s return to the neighborhood he once pillaged for campaign donations, but his standing as an ethnic community leader did seem to suggest that the problems he could face were greater than the one that he faced in Colorado.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, during which he played Barack Obama’s golf partner and rallied behind a politician he knew from their shared liberal roots, Blagojevich was brought to trial on charges that he had lied to federal agents about trying to sell an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Obama. In the end, he was found guilty of 14 counts of corruption, including attempted extortion, making false statements to investigators, and wire fraud. “I am innocent,” he told the jury. “I never did anything illegal.”
In December, the ex-governor, now 71, was sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to begin serving his time in May. When he arrived in Chicago to begin serving his sentence he called his treatment “horrific.”
It’s back to business for Blagojevich, who also said that he wants to write a memoir about his experience. “I’m out of prison, and I’m coming to tell people the story,” he said.
As Blagojevich made his way home Wednesday, he was trailed by photographers from the Chicago Tribune and media trucks from ABC-7 News. He eventually found his way into the presidential residence, but no pictures were allowed. Instead, he had to order a pizza at a nearby truck stop.
Read the full story at NBC Chicago.
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