At Issue: Community Activism And Government

Craig Dellimore
March 15, 2019 - 7:56 am
Amisha Patel, Debbie Southorn, and Huu Nguyen

WBBM Newsradio/Craig Dellimore


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Some community activists say that just because they didn’t stop projects they opposed from advancing in the City Council this week, it doesn’t mean they are defeated.

Despite loud, and sometimes disruptive, protests at City Hall, aldermen approved funding for a new Police and Fire Training Academy, zoning for the huge Lincoln Yards development, and plans for a warehouse distribution center in Little Village. 

But, Amisha Patel, director of the Grassroots Collaborative said the protests had an effect.

"We are succeeding and pushing forward actually our ideas and forcing a real debate and conversation," she said.

And efforts even produced changes in the projects.

Debbie Southorn with the "No Cop Academy" group agrees restaurants were added to the Training Academy Plan and more affordable housing onsite at Lincoln Yards.

"The win in that isn't like 'oh there's an additional thing,' the win in that they are feeling so much pressure," Southorn said.

Patel said Mayor Emanuel is relentless.

"He's trying to push forward his legacy projects before he goes because he knows the next administration is not necessarily in favor," she said.

Debbie Southorn and Huu Nguyen
WBBM Newsradio/Craig Dellimore

Both mayoral candidates, Toni Preckwinkle and Lori Lightfoot, had called for major projects to be put on hold until a new mayor and new alderman could be sworn in.

So can the activists relax when a new mayor takes office?

No, said Huu Nguyen, with the group "Raise Your Hand Action."

"Just because we think we are going to have someone in the position of power that is more aligned to our values and principles doesn't mean we are going to ease up," Nguyen said.

WBBM Newsradio will talk about community activism and government on our At Issue program this weekend and you can hear more Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.