A series of illegal police sweeps versus the homeless in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood is prompting a Monday night march on the residence of 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman, whom residents charge is at the heart of a multi-pronged effort to force poor people out of the ward and “ethnically cleanse” it to make way for wealthy real estate developers.
“Since police and Alderman Cappleman have brought these issues to where the homeless and most vulnerable sleep, we have decided to bring it back to where Alderman Cappleman sleeps,” said Ryne Poelker of Uptown Uprising, one of the march organizers.
Uptown residents charge that Cappleman is directly complicit in the attacks on poor and working class residents of the ward, working hand-in-glove with wealthy real estate developers, taking their campaign contributions in return for promoting policies that hurt many 46th Ward residents:
** By promoting the closure of several low-cost housing options, specifically SROs (Single Room Occupancies) which housed formerly homeless and at-risk individuals;
** By vocally opposing even the most mild Single Room Occupancies (SROs) protections ordinance;
** By voting to close 1/2 of the city’s mental health clinics;
** By promoting the closure of several low-cost housing options in the ward for those who are at risk of being homeless;
** By advocating for use of public money (TIF funds) to subsidize commercial and residential developments for the wealthy, rather those in most need;
** By allowing the sell-off public assets, like the Stewart School, for luxury developments, even though community assemblies solidly backed the re-use as low income housing and a public use space; and,
** By harassing existing social service providers in the ward, such as trying to shut down the Salvation Army food trucks feeding the poor.
Community residents have monitored several illegal police sweeps in recent weeks, including one as recently as this past Friday night.
“Rather than wasting City resources on police illegally harassing homeless people in a City that thanks to the Mayor and Council is flat broke, we should be using this money to promote policies like ‘Housing First,’ a proven strategy that not only can end homelessness, but allow less costly ways of treating mental illness, substance abuse and other ills that often come with it,” said Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation Network, another of the march organizers. “Instead, Alderman Cappleman is apparently using city resources to pursue a political and private business agenda to promote gentrification.”