Monthly Archives: September 2017

History of the organization Uptown Tent City and the iconic photo in our logo

Uptown Tent City photo of sleep out protest, used in UTC logo & Facebook © Copyright 2015 Yehuda Rothschild

The birth of the Uptown Tent City organization

Back in June 2015, Eric Clayton, Ryne Poelker and yours truly, Yehuda Rothschild formed what was to become the activist group Uptown Tent City (also known as UTC, Uptown Tent City Organizers and UTCO).

The three of us and our families lived within blocks of the Lawrence and Wilson viaducts.

Along with many others on a daily basis, we witnessed the suffering of people experiencing homelessness in the viaducts and nearby park areas. The abuses heaped upon our neighbors by Alderman Cappleman, the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Park District were horrific.

Our activism was 100% pure citizen-based activism, with nothing to gain except the cause itself. We were quickly joined by Jeff Littleton, Nickolas Kaplan, many members of JPUSA, many viaduct and park residents, Carol Boyd, Melissa Hernandez and others too numerous to mention (sorry).

One important characteristic of our group was that not only did it include housed and formerly homeless people, it was inclusive of the viaduct and park residents. We were all neighbors and residents of Uptown (and elsewhere as it grew), and of equal stature. We were a group of individuals. No one was paid, there were no organization bank accounts or corporate sponsorships. This is still the case.

Uptown Tent City filled a blank spot

We formed our group in great part due to the fact that no one else was championing the cause or involved with the viaducts (with the exception of Uptown Peoples Law Center and Chicago Coalition for the Homeless legal representations).

Another important facet of our organization is it is about the people experiencing homelessness, not us. Though we do nothing in anonymity, and many of us do become known members of Uptown Tent City, we strongly discourage personal stardom or doing anything for the glory…

Our first protest

With less than a week of planning and promotion, we had our first protest event ‘Tent City in OUR City!’ on Friday, June 26, 2015.
https://www.facebook.com/events/406904342848549

Over 100 people attended and it was clear that a whole lot of people really cared.

We formally adopted Uptown Tent City name

On July 7th, 2015, we named our group Uptown Tent City and registered the domain UptownTentCity.com.

At the same time or slightly prior, we started the Uptown Tent City Facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/UptownTentCity

We later added a linked Facebook group.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/UptownTentCity

http://whois.domaintools.com/uptowntentcity.com

We also started our twitter account @UptownTentCity and a non-public Facebook organizing only group called ‘Uptown Tent City Organizers’ which is where that moniker came from.

Our second protest

On July 8th, 2015 we started planning our 2nd protest, a sleep out.
https://uptowntentcity.com/2015/07/08/save-the-date-august-29-2015

On July 14th, 2015 we announced the Uptown Tent City Sleepout
https://uptowntentcity.com/2015/07/14/1st-annual-uptown-tent-city-sleep-out

Tent City in Uptown: A Sleep Out and Protest
August 29, 2015 – August 30, 2015
Hosted by Uptown Tent City
https://www.facebook.com/events/468960209948926

It was a phenomenal success, hundreds attended and thank God including Andy Thayer, who saved the day when it came time to confront the police and joined our leadership.

Advocate & do nothing to help the suffering now?

We quickly asked ourselves how could we advocate for the homeless and watch people freeze without doing anything for them like some advocates do, as 2015 turned into winter. We supplied tents and other warmth supplies as we could to the viaducts and in December 2015 sought the communities help to fill this great need.

https://uptowntentcity.com/2015/12/29/tents-for-the-homeless-gofundme-campaign

This became an essential part of our advocacy. Unfortunately, the success also attracted organizations and individuals with less than pure motives. We did have to fight off a few grubby hands but for the most part, we have been able to maintain our preference to the high road.

The important take away is there is only one organization that does everything we do. Even adding a “)” or using our photos changes nothing, there is only one Uptown Tent City.

Thank you Uptown Tent City attorneys

It is important to thank Uptown Tent City attorneys Nickolas Kaplan, Alan Mills, Diane O’Connell, Nicole Schult, Patricia Nix Hodes, Molly Armour, Jeffrey Frank, Adele Nicholas, Susan Ritacca and Robert N. Hermes. This is another super important and differentiating facet that without, the real Uptown Tent City would not be possible.

  • Educate the public about homelessness, housing and government
  • Help the homeless now with tents and other survival needs
  • Litigate for protection now and a better future

The rest is history on our website and Facebook page/group. If you haven’t already, please join us.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Injunction to Stop Eviction Press Release

Info about our super important hearing next week

It will be at 10 AM, Thursday, Sept 14 in Courtroom 1843, 219 S. Dearborn.

That said, please tell everyone you can to be there NO LATER THAN 9:45 AM, as you will need to go through a metal detector in the lobby. You will also need picture id.

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD AND STRONGLY ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO BE THERE!!

Below is the text of the news release we just sent out which give more info about what will be happening:

Federal Judge Sets 9/14 Hearing for Injunction to Stop Eviction of Homeless at LSD Viaducts

Proposed injunction demands that the City either permanently house the homeless or allow them to have tents in a location with similar visibility and security

CHICAGO, 9/8/17 – This afternoon a federal court judge set a 10 am, Thursday, September 14 hearing to determine the fate of an injunction brought by activists aiming to stop a threatened September 18th eviction of homeless people living underneath Lake Shore Drive bridge viaducts in the city’s Uptown neighborhood.

The hearing will be held in Judge Sidney Schenkier’s courtroom number 1843 at the US District Courthouse for the Northern District of Illinois, 219 S. Dearborn Street.

The motion for the injunction is part of a suit against the City for failing to allow homeless people to congregate in another area while Lake Shore Drive viaducts are reconstructed – the pedestrian mall in front of the shuttered Stewart School in the 4500 block of N. Kenmore. On September 26, 2016, a private contractor working in coordination with about a dozen Chicago Police fenced off the pedestrian mall under the guise of a phony construction permit, evicting homeless people from the area. No construction occurred and City Attorney Kelley A. Gandurski later admitted that the erection of the fence was “illegal.”

Attorneys for the suit, Tent City Alternative to LSD Viaducts and Andy Thayer v. City of Chicago, et al., No. 17 CV 4518, are Jeffrey Frank, Susan Hathaway Ritacca of Susan Ritacca Law Office, Alan Mills of Uptown People’s Law Center, Molly Armour of the Law Office of Molly Armour, and Adele D. Nicholas of the Law Office of Adele D. Nicholas.

Thanks,
-Andy

City Decides There’s a Homelessness Problem at Lake Shore Drive Viaducts

As part of a transparently cynical move to stave off a threatened federal court injunction to halt the Sept 18th eviction of homeless people at the Lake Shore Drive bridge viaducts in Uptown, this morning the City apparently decided that there is problem with homelessness there.

After many failed promises of permanent housing for the homeless at the viaducts, shiny new Dept of Family & Support Services trucks with card tables pulled up this morning. Also there were various private social services agencies, a few of whom told me they’d been asked just yesterday by the City to show up.

Nothing against the agencies and their workers, but we’ve heard the City’s promises many times before, and only when threatened with legal action do they suddenly show any energetic action.

This afternoon, Federal Judge Sidney Schenkier said he would set a hearing sometime next week to decide the fate of our move for an injunction to stop the evictions until the City either permanently houses everyone at the viaducts (ie, not temporary shelters) or allows people to set up tents in another space of similar visibility and safety, such as the pedestrian mall in front of the old Stewart School in the 4500 block of N. Kenmore.

-Andy Thayer

The poison in the Uptown community well

Perspective points can be misleading

I think most people in the homelessness subject discussion are at some point intersecting reasonable perspectives, except for the polluters.

Almost everyone has something to gain supporting housing the homeless and not supporting the constant growing inequity our government officials administer, except for the polluters.

I’m a -very imperfect- follower of Jesus. I believe in the human condition as described by my Lord. When Jesus said “The poor you will always have with you” Matthew 26:11 NIV, it had nothing to do with continued self-causation of poverty but that greed, selfishness and corruption would always be part of the human condition creating and recreating poverty.

That said, I have owned and paid taxes on several modest homes and properties, I understand the perspective. Beyond that ~30 years ago I was a junior equity member of a development team, I was in property management prior to that. I understand those perspectives. I know first hand what happens in boardrooms, aldermanic and rental offices. The average person would be appalled and with good reason.

Good, even great Democrats

The sad thing is that most of us thought we were good, even great Democrats and doing the community a favor with our actions. Just like Alderman Cappleman and his cohorts are now, then we were so confused whether wood, bricks, steel and concrete, or living feeling human beings equaled community…

Since my days, this injustice has only gotten more sophisticated in it’s unbalanced growth and deception. You can believe I am far wealthier having a different perspective today.

Among the Uptown community, I think all sides have more in common that we realize, even if we have different balances that make us uniquely human. The potential is there to have better communications and understanding.

The big exception to all this is the pollution and it’s progenitors, which are bad for everyone. You can’t compromise or have honest discussions and followup with greed, selfishness and corruption. It has to be rooted out, which is not likely without force. One can hope elections and the courts will do this, but I suspect a let them eat cake moment is more likely eventually. We shall see…

Uptown’s community garden needs weeding

To put this in today and real examples, Cappleman has to go. Its difficult to define criminality when the criminals write the legal definition, but through a neutral lens and barring Cappleman having a major personal epiphany, Cappleman is and will remain criminally inhumane and part of a corrupt system and enterprise. The Mayor and many others too.

Most people do not want people to be homeless or suffering, for a variety of reasons and with a variety of proposed solutions. It is complex. I pray more people do not learn true empathy by experiencing pain and learning the hard way as I did. In the meantime no one gains by people sleeping in doorways and viaducts, people that love them or hate them. This needs to be fixed.

The gov’t will continue to throw crumbs at the populace while they rob the City blind until we stop them. A crumb for me might be 75 people housed out of 80k+ homeless. A crumb for someone else might be a bike lane.

Don’t elect foxes to guard the hen-houses please

Paying higher taxes subsidizing a wealthy luxury housing developer is NOT a crumb. Why some perceive it as such I don’t know… And just who thinks its a good idea to public payroll a defacto Real Estate industry lobbyist as alderman? The only beneficiaries of developing only luxury housing instead of balanced for all housing needs are the developers and their bought and paid for lobbyists. If you are not one of them, you lose no matter how the lie goes…

Meanwhile hundreds of millions of dollars continue to be stolen, lost or misappropriated in the sick prioritization that every one of us pays for, some with more pain than others… Don’t believe it? Ask on our Facebook Page/Group. Facts stand for themselves.

Alderman James Cappleman voted in the largest property tax increase in Chicago history

That is a fact. And there are many more verifiable facts. Stand on the side of reality. Facts are your friends.

Positioning your property tax status against the homeless is a math error at the very least. Consider placing your tax angst at the true cause, instead of being manipulated into using it falsely and divisively.

No one gains in corruption except those who give and receive the bribes. Even if your concerns are nothing more than clear sidewalks, housing the homeless instead of letting your alderman live in the pocket of Real Estate developers costs a whole lot less. Everyone gains, except the pollution.

Don’t let Democracy be the big loser

If you pay property taxes directly or through a lease, live in a shelter, live outside or have any other form of residence in Uptown, you are of equal value morally and legally.

Everyone should support the Uptown Tent City Organizer lawsuits for homeless rights. You shouldn’t be fooled into sweeping human beings under the rug as Cappleman advises and pontificates at great confusion intended length with his cornucopia of lies.

This is the real addict talk, blame-shifting victims or other wards, and rationalizations piled as high as kites. Don’t even start me on the childish anonymous behavior the Cappleman family and staff play online. This guy is a real work. How embarrassing. We can do better.

Ald. Cappleman IS the father of today’s tent cities

And tomorrow’s if we let him continue.

Depleting Uptown of 2000 units of low cost housing is part of the cause, not part of the solution of homelessness. More of the same will only make things even worse. Chasing away services and hassling non-profits, ditto.

No one fails the ‘evidenced-based’ test more than Cappleman himself.

We can’t wait until the next election. Demand fairness for all, and honesty and transparency in government through the courts until we can elect better legislators.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

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