A noisy news helicopter hovered high overhead. Reporters, photographers and cameramen jammed the street around the former governor and his wife.
A small group of well-wishers pushed close. One woman, who identified herself as a breast cancer survivor, was in tears.
“I went through chemo, radiation, my brother was in Joliet. You can do it, man!” she cried out, referring to the state prison in the southwestern suburbs.
It was yet another surreal scene Wednesday on West Sunnyside in the Ravenswood Manor neighborhood.
Rod Blagojevich and his wife Patti had just returned in a dark Chrysler 300 to their Northwest Side home from federal court, where the former governor had been handed a sobering 14-year prison sentence.
Blagojevich said little as he tried to push through the scrum to get to his porch and inside his home.
But he did find time to stop to autograph a copy of his book, The Governor.
“He just signed his name,” Brian Vickers, 41, of Hazel Crest said later. “But it’s important to me.”
“I’m a supporter of the former governor and everything – the charges, the impeachment, the guilty verdict and this extreme sentence – is a miscarriage of justice,” he said. “The truth was in his book.”
Reporters yelled questions.
Supporters shouted “Keep your head up,” “We love you governor” and “We’re with you buddy.”
Blagojevich ignored the reporters, but offered a “Thank you” and other sentiments to the well-wishers.
After a few minutes of shaking hands with his supporters Blagojevich turned to an aide who had escorted him and his wife from the car.
“Which way out?” Blagojevich asked of the media scrum, before quickly disappearing into to his home.
One neighbor out walking her dog said she hopes the sentencing means an end to the television news satellite trucks and reporters often clogging the neighborhood since Blagojevich’s arrest three years ago.
“I have nothing to say to you, except ‘goodbye,’” the woman told a reporter.