Downtown Chicago on lockdown
From August 11 to the 17, Mayor Lori Lightfoot made tangible the long-held truism that there are two Chicagos by insulating the Loop and keeping residents from the neighborhoods shut out after dark—while reiterating that these actions did not constitute a curfew. It was a tone-deaf response to the civil unrest that unfolded on the Mag Mile August 9 after Chicago police flooded Englewood when their officers shot a man. City departments and services, such as CDOT, Streets and San, CTA, and Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, ensured that bridges were pulled up, all expressway ramps leading to downtown were blocked, and trains and buses stopped running by 9pm. On August 15, a peaceful daytime protest in the Loop was met with police batons, kettling, and pepper spray that made headlines and produced eight COPA complaints. The police controlled the narrative by releasing edited video clips of the episode to the media, doxxing young protesters online (a practice they have since walked back) and attempting to conflate the events of August 9 and August 15. South Side Weekly is now collecting first-person accounts, photos, and videos to create a timeline of police escalation. Submit your own at sswk.ly/protests
East Siders file a complaint against the city for environmental racism
Three community groups on the Southeast Side filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, alleging that the city’s plan to move a scrap-metal recycling plant from wealthy, mostly white Lincoln Park to a predominantly Latino neighborhood violates the Fair Housing Act. The plant, General Iron, was reportedly ticketed for emissions violations eleven times in five months before an explosion forced it to close down temporarily in May. General Iron’s planned move to the East Side would make way for the controversial TIF-funded Lincoln Yards luxury development. The complaint, filed jointly by the Southeast Environmental Task Force, Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke, and People for Community Recovery, accuses the city of intentionally discriminating against residents of South Chicago and the Southeast Side community by planning to move the plant there. “I’m tired of policing polluters and policing politicians,” Gina Ramirez, co-chair of the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke, told The Hoodoisie and South Side Weekly.
Renewable energy, urban farming, and health care services coming to Auburn Gresham
The hotly anticipated outcome of the $10 million inaugural Chicago Prize competition was announced August 6. The winner: “Always Growing, Auburn Gresham,” a collaboration between the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, Urban Growers Collective, and Green Era Partners. The plum community development prize, administered by the Pritzker Traubert Foundation, will be used to transform an empty building at 79th and Halsted into a “healthy lifestyle hub” featuring medical, dental, and behavioral health services as well as a Black-owned restaurant and a suite of social service options, and a renewable energy and urban farming campus at 650 W. 83rd St., on a site formerly used as a CPD impound lot. The project is expected to provide more than 600 temporary and permanent jobs, as well as (when completed) provide healthcare to 11,000 people and generate more than 14,000 pounds of fresh produce annually. The city and state have also kicked in $6 million toward the project, and the foundation has pledged an additional $2.5 million to runner-up projects in Englewood, South Chicago, Little Village, North Lawndale, and Austin.