In my last column, I wrote about how the Chicago Independent Human Rights Council, along with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, sponsored a Human Rights Hearing. I attended the housing sessions last Thursday night, where I heard from a young guy the city had helped to make homeless. I heard of the numerous shenanigans that are being perpetrated on people who are losing their houses.
One of the most insidious stories I heard concerned people who were approached to get new windows or a new roof “for free.” Then as part of the “free” service, the city is called in to inspect the property and the homeowners are suddenly saddled with enormous fines they can’t pay. The city then places a lien on the property to eventually force the homeowners off the land.
Since Chicago can’t grow any wider other than doing landfill into the lake, the only other option is to look at land where people are living but the city doesn’t want to see there. I guarantee the folks living on that land are descendants of enslaved Africans. So unless you can hold up a mirror and speak about your relatives who immigrated after 1865, you are one of those the city wants to get rid of.
If you have one of those horror stories or know someone who has been forced off their property, send me an email with information on how to contact you.
I also attended the press conference, held this past Sunday at Sankofa Cultural Center, to welcome Rev. Al Sharpton to Chicago. Rev. Al will be “living” on the West Side and using his bully pulpit to bring focus and attention to the violence currently plaguing a number of communities in this city — with a special focus on Austin. I had to put the term “living” in quotation marks because he is not moving here. He has taken an apartment where he will stay once a week, or more often if necessary.
I happened to hear about the press conference because I listen to his radio show and he announced on Friday that he would be in Chicago. I also heard some criticism of his being here. I have an initial first impression of what his agenda will and will not be, but right now because of all the crime and drama going on, I’m gonna reserve comment. The black community is in dire need of a voice to speak truth to power. Just like within a family, sometimes it is the outsider who can come in and point out the problems and solutions better than anyone close to the situation.
The only local politician in attendance was Congressman Danny K. Davis. All of the aldermen, state representatives and senators, Cook County commissioners and Austin’s the two other congressmen were missing. Rev. Al has a better hotline to the POTUS (President of the United States) over anyone else, and the absence of all those elected officials should be duly noted when the primaries come about next year.
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me? But … the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’
-Martin Luther King Jr.