“Nobody asked us, nobody told us. We have a few thousand people here who signed their signature and said ‘no!’ We said ‘no!’”
Residents of Brighton Park, located in southwest Chicago, lashed out at officials over a planned migrant camp.
Nobody asked or told them.
Residents say they only found out about the project when they recently spotted construction crews working at the site. The discovery led to protests, and on Monday, city officials confirmed their intent for the 10-acre vacant lot, located at 38th and California.
“The City of Chicago has been identifying viable sites across the city to construct base camps as an alternative to new arrivals sleeping outdoors, at O’Hare and on the floors of police district stations as winter fast approaches,” the statement from the mayor’s office reads. “The site at 38th and California appears viable, and the intention is to construct temporary shelter at this site.”
The city’s statement confirmed speculation that the site would become Mayor Brandon Johnson’s first “winterized base camp” – after neighbors noticed construction equipment there.
Ald. Julia Ramirez (12th Ward) only found out when people called her office about it: “I had reached out to the city and they verified that was the case and ever since then, I’ve been pushing the administration to be more open, more transparent about the details.”
Hardly anyone believed her:
A heated protest last Thursday left Ramirez and an aide battered by protesters who accused her of backing the plan without getting the community’s input first.
Ramirez vehemently denied those accusations in a letter shared Sunday evening on “X,” the platform formerly known as Twitter.
“The Mayor’s office did not consult with me or my office about their current plans to construct a temporary shelter — meant to house 1,500 people — at 38th & California,” Ramirez asserted in the letter.
The auditorium at Kelly College Preparatory High School filled up and some people couldn’t even get inside for a town meeting: “Nobody asked us, nobody told us. We have a few thousand people here who signed their signature and said ‘no!’ We said ‘no!’”
There are plenty of people who want to help the immigrants but it’s also almost winter:
Ada Zhu, 33, read a printed script to city officials: ”(This) clearly showed the mayor’s disrespect for our district. You are taking our rights away. This is not right.”
Julie Ganez, 60, who lives a block and a half from the site, said she is not against immigration, but she knows there are other spaces to house migrants.
”Nosotros necesitamos seguridad. Hay que arreglar los problemas que tienen en casa. We need security. We should fix the problems we already have here,” she said in Spanish with the help of a translator.
Former alderman George Cardenas said the site has environmental concerns: ”That site is contaminated, otherwise we would have built houses there a long time ago.”
Another resident said, “We have concerns about our students, our children who walk on this street every day, how do we ensure their safety.”DONATE
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