Lisa has been sleeping at the Whittier Dual Language Elementary School field house for three weeks now, where the Chicago Public Schools yesterday had People’s Gas turned off the heat and hot water supply to the building.
(photo by Sarah-Ji)Almost three weeks ago, a group of mostly single, working Latina moms decided to hold a sit-in to protest the demolition of the field house next to John Greenleaf Whittier Dual Language Elementary School in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.
Monica is a sweet young girl in a pink knit pancho. Her hair is tied back into a ponytail and she is shy. I’m making her speak in English for the interview. She’s comfortable in the language, clearly—but she’d be even more comfortable if we were speaking Spanish.
Compact Evelin Santos is helping the mothers in the Pilsen compound agitate for a library, which they’ve been doing now for a week and a day. Well, agitate isn’t the right word, but politely demand doesn’t sound strong enough for a nine-day occupation.
Evelin has been explaining to me that the building now known as “La Casita” has been in regular use for at least the last seven years. We have documentation to prove that CPS knew that it was in use, that we have programs here.
You would not be likely to pick Evelin Santos out of a crowd: she’d be in the back, in the shadows of the room, her long curly hair tied out of her eyes, quietly scanning the crowd to make sure everyone’s needs get met.