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Lake Shore Shutdown, Emanuel Lawsuit, Saving Woodlawn’s Healing Village – Third Coast Today 8/3/18

In this inaugural edition of the all new Third Coast Today on Friday, August 3, we take a look at the anti-violence march that shut down Lake Shore Drive, the struggle to save a community space in Woodlawn, a new lawsuit filed by the city against President Trump, and more.

Anti-Violence Activists Shut Down Lake Shore Drive, March To Wrigley Field

Chicago anti-violence activists shut down Lake Shore Drive Thursday afternoon before marching to Wrigley Field to draw attention to gun violence, crime, and other issues afflicting resource-starved neighborhoods in the city.

“There are too many killings in Chicago, there are too many police-involved killings in Chicago,” said Tio Hardiman, one of the demonstration’s organizers. “It’s time to change the narrative in Chicago.”

Both Hardiman and co-organizer Gregory Livingston said they brought the protest to the north side of the city to not only highlight the disparity between affluent, white areas and black and brown neighborhoods, but to try to force a conversation about it to take place in an area that often ignores it.

Demonstrators march onto Lake Shore Drive at the Belmont onramp as part of an anti-violence protest on August 2. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

“We are going down commercial strips and if people are upset about us disturbing their entertainment and their cafe life, human life is more important than recreation,” said Livingston when organizers announced the march more than a week prior, adding that they wanted to “redistribute the pain in Chicago.”

“In disadvantaged and challenged neighborhoods the cries of the people are ignored…in better neighborhoods they’re heard,” he said. “It’s a tale of two cities. One of the hardest things to do is inspire the uninspired. Sometimes you have to stick your neck out, have some skin in the game and get people to recognize that there are some people here that are trying to do something.”

Protesters march along the southbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive during an anti-violence march on August 2. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

Activists in Chicago have spent years trying to call attention to the lack of resources for neighborhoods of color, which are primarily located on the South and West sides of the city. Revitalization efforts in Chicago, many of which are often paid for through Tax Increment Financing or TIF districts, are often directed towards the downtown Loop area or areas like Lakeview and Wrigleyville, despite those neighborhoods already being well-off. Meanwhile South and West side neighborhoods have seen a record number of school closures, mental health clinic closures, and police shootings over the past few years.

Hardiman said he had hoped for 500 demonstrators to join the march, while police estimated the crowd size around 150, though at times the crowd appeared to increase beyond 200. Police presence was heavy throughout the neighborhood, with patrol cars parked on nearly every street corner well in advance of the march, and a mounted unit stationed at a barricade in front of Wrigley Field.

Despite a week’s worth of headlines and news stories that often chose to either highlight the tension the protest could create in the area or outright scare tactics, no arrests were made and no damage was reported to any businesses in the area. Protesters instead did exactly what they planned—marched, chanted, prayed, sang, and chalked messages on both the drive and in front of Wrigley Field.

Anti-violence protesters write messages in chalk on the street in front of Wrigley Field on August 2nd. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

“It is time for us to pray, to pray for our city,” said  Livingston, in front of the police barricades at the stadium. “We’ve got multimillionaires inside this stadium, but we have God’s people out here.” (In partnership with Visu.News. You can see the full story and a photo gallery here)

Woodlawn Residents and Activists Try to Save Neighborhood ‘Healing Village’

Community members and mental health advocates on Chicago’s South Side are calling on 20th Ward Alderman Willie Cochran to let them keep a ‘healing village’ they created on a vacant lot in the Woodlawn neighborhood. Woodlawn lost its mental health clinic when the Chicago Department of Public Health closed half of Chicago’s clinics in 2012, resulting in a catastrophic loss of services for folks in need of care.

“It’s often difficult for the people who need it most to access this system. We need to increase access to mental health therapy and expand what therapy looks like,” reads a statement in part from the coalition that built the village. “The imaginative, artistic space will open us up to new possibilities for healing our communities and our minds. Chicago can get excited about engaging in mental health and pushing forth new city legislation to give Chicagoans the healing they deserve.”

The group says that Cochran gave artist and SAIC instructor Leah Gipson permission to build an installation on the vacant property on 63rd Street earlier this year, and permission to stay between July and October. They say that Cochran rescinded on his promise and plans to evict them on August 6. Though Cochran did not return a request from Third Coast Review for comment, he told WBBM news that they did not have his support, alleged they did not have community support, and that they don’t have insurance.

Organizers told the Chicago Reader on Thursday they have raised the insurance money, but Cochran won’t relent.

According to Black Lives Matter Chicago, one of the partners in helping create the village, 22% of Woodlawn’s lots and buildings are vacant, and the area where it’s located has been vacant for years. It’s more than befuddling why Cochran would choose to not support a community resource that offers free yoga classes, workshops, group discussions, vigils and provides space for community members who often are survivors of violence living with trauma.

“Community members have said that #HealingVillage is an answer to a prayer, by allowing mothers who have lost loved ones to grieve together as well as share experiences of healing, Chicago Black Lives Matter wrote in a series of tweets from a Thursday press conference at the location. “Chicago has over 10,000 vacant lots. We do not need more blight and neglect. Allow the community to use this public space and turn it into a functional and productive space instead of a visible reminder of city neglect.”

Chicago Joins Lawsuit Against Trump Administration

The City of Chicago joined several other cities and individuals in filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration Thursday for “intentionally and unlawfully sabotaging the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. File photo by Aaron Cynic.

“I worked hard to help President Obama expand access to affordable health care for millions of Americans, and I will not sit idly by while the Trump administration raises the cost of care and rolls back access to life-saving coverage,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a press release. “President Trump is attempting to sabotage the Affordable Care Act out of pure spite. It is not just immoral, it is illegal, and the City of Chicago looks forward to defending our residents’ rights to access affordable care in court.”

The lawsuit alleges that in attacking the ACA, Trump has increased the number of uninsured Americans, increased health care costs, and violated his constitutional duty to execute the law.  

“The actions of the President and his administration violate both the Administrative Procedure Act and the Take Care Clause of the Constitution,” said Ed Siskel, Corporation Counsel. “The President has an established obligation to enforce laws, and he cannot allow his personal politics to override the will of Congress.”

The cities of Columbus, Cincinnati and Baltimore, along with individuals in Charlottesville, Virginia, and a non-profit legal organization are also parties in the lawsuit.

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