By Ryan Connelly Holmes
Protesters marched in Uptown Monday night to vent frustration at Ald. James Cappleman and the Chicago police who ticketed individuals sleeping near the Wilson Avenue viaduct.
“These people who are sleeping out here, they want peace,” said Ryne Poelker, 24, who used to be homeless and now is involved as a volunteer with the Northside Action for Justice.
“They just want to be able to exist in peace and they’re being constantly ticketed, constantly harassed, and constantly criminalized for being homeless,” he said.
Last week police ticketed homeless people near the Wilson Avenue viaduct, which sparked outrage in the community and mobilized Monday night’s protest.
More than 50 people marched in the demonstration, which started at Wilson Avenue and Marine Drive, and worked its way to Ald. Cappleman’s home. When he wasn’t there, protesters went to his office on N Broadway Street, where he met protesters face-to-face.
Protesters squeezed into the alderman’s storefront, filling the main room. In a raised tone, Andy Thayer, the voice of the march and co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, and another protester asked the alderman if he would take a pay cut or call for the disciplining of police officers.
Ald. Cappleman did not answer either question directly, saying that he gives portions of his income to charity and that he encourages those who have witnessed wrongful treatment from the police to file a report.
Ald. Cappleman’s office released a statement saying that he shares “many of the protesters’ concerns about the impact of the police sweeps on our homeless neighbors.”
The statement also said that Ald. Cappleman is working with organizations such as One Northside and the Jane Addams Senior Caucus to ensure affordable housing stays in Uptown.
He supports building more affordable units and and increasing funding for the Low Income Housing Trust Fund, the statement read.
Thayer said the evening’s protest was the beginning of the process.
“This is a first step,” Thayer said. “We didn’t win tonight, [but] what we did do is we mobilized our community and that’s the first step—the necessary step—for victory.”