WBEZ | blacks http://www.wbez.org/tags/blacks Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Joliet lashes back at federal prosecutors over housing suit http://www.wbez.org/story/joliet-lashes-back-federal-prosecutors-over-housing-suit-90203 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-05/Thanas.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A top Joliet official is lashing back at federal prosecutors for suing his city to block condemnation of a low-income housing complex called Evergreen Terrace.<br> <br> The suit, a civil complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, accuses Joliet of violating the Fair Housing Act, trying to “perpetuate segregation,” and attempting to “limit or reduce the number of Black or African-American residents residing within the city.”<br> <br> City Manager Tom Thanas called the suit a legal maneuver to “wear us down” by lengthening Joliet’s six-year legal battle for authority to condemn the complex. “This is at a time when Joliet doesn’t have the financial resources to take on big litigation,” Thanas said Friday afternoon. “We, like other municipalities around the country, are suffering with declining revenues and increasing expenses.”<br> <br> Thanas stuck by the city’s claim that Evergreen Terrace, a privately owned 356-unit development, has too many police and fire calls. But whether to keep fighting for condemnation authority is up to Joliet elected officials, Thanas added. “That’s something we’ll be reviewing with the mayor and city council,” he said.<br> <br> The complex houses about 765 low-income residents, nearly all African-American, and abuts the Des Plaines River across from downtown Joliet.<br> <br> Joliet’s attempts to close Evergreen Terrace stretch back more than a decade. The city tried to block refinancing for the complex but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sunk in millions of dollars.<br> <br> In 2005, Joliet asked a state court for condemnation authority. The HUD stake sent the condemnation bid into the federal court system, where it remains.<br> <br> The property’s owners, New West Limited Partnership and New Bluff Limited Partnership, filed a federal suit against the condemnation. A group of residents filed another federal suit against it. One of those residents, Teresa Davis, also filed a complaint with HUD, which led to Thursday’s U.S. Department of Justice suit.<br> <br> Joliet officials say the city for years has planned to redevelop the site for affordable housing and help relocate the residents.<br> <br> But Thursday’s suit claims “the city has no meaningful plan” for those aims.<br> <br> Patrick Johnson, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said Friday afternoon that prosecutors held discussions with Joliet officials before filing the suit. Johnson called those talks unsuccessful and said the sides have scheduled no other settlement negotiations. Next week, he added, the government will motion for its suit to be joined with the other federal suits aimed at preserving Evergreen Terrace. Johnson said the case’s discovery phase could last at least a year.<br> <br> Asked whether the government was just trying to wear down Joliet, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said prosecutors would have no further comment.<br> <br> An Evergreen Terrace resident, for his part, said the federal suit was already having an effect — bringing some positive attention to the complex. “I don’t see much wrong with the place,” said Elvis Foster, 53, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment and serves on the tenant council. “You’re close to downtown. You got the Joliet Junior College just two blocks away. And [the complex] is not feared as much as people would say.”</p></p> Fri, 05 Aug 2011 21:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/joliet-lashes-back-federal-prosecutors-over-housing-suit-90203 Republicans sue over Illinois legislative remap http://www.wbez.org/story/republicans-sue-over-illinois-legislative-remap-89415 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-20/AP110524144588.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Top Illinois Republicans have sued to invalidate the state's new legislative district map drawn by Democrats.</p><div><p>In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court, House Republican leader Tom Cross and Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno contend the map shortchanges blacks and Latinos and dilutes the voting strength of Republicans.</p><p>Democrats were in charge of the redistricting process because they control both the Legislature and the governor's office. Gov. Pat Quinn has signed the map into law.</p><p>Democrats have defended the map, but it's gotten mixed reviews from community groups. Some praised it for adequately reflecting the state's growing Latino population, while others say it could go further and also better maximize the black voting population in some districts.</p><p>The map could be redrawn if the lawsuit is successful.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 20 Jul 2011 18:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/republicans-sue-over-illinois-legislative-remap-89415 When someone else’s art lands in your neighborhood http://www.wbez.org/story/abductions/when-someone-else%E2%80%99s-art-lands-your-neighborhood <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Sculpture2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><b>Ten sculptors have put up outdoor pieces in Chicago&rsquo;s East Garfield Park neighborhood. The installation&rsquo;s supposed to stay up for a year. The group says the purpose is to expose people to art that they might not be able to see otherwise. But, then again, residents never asked for the opportunity. So what happens when someone else&rsquo;s art lands in your neighborhood? We report from our West Side bureau.</b><br /><br />Before looking into how the 10 pieces are going over in East Garfield Park, I ask Chicago sculptor Terrence Karpowicz to show them to me. He led the installation.<br /><br />MITCHELL: To me it looks like a huge, three-fingered claw. What is this?<br />KARPOWICZ: This is a sculpture by Fisher Stoltz titled &ldquo;Moonbench.&rdquo; I see it as a rendezvous point for the local community. They can actually come and sit down and converse.<br />MITCHELL: Yeah, there&rsquo;s a marble bench here.<br />KARPOWICZ: Actually it&rsquo;s granite. There is an electrical element that lights up at night so that the white marble sphere glows. Come on and sit down.<br />MITCHELL: Yeah, now that we&rsquo;re sitting down, this granite is very cold on my fat rear end.<br />KARPOWICZ: It warms up in summertime.<br /><br />The sculptures stand as high as 14 feet. They&rsquo;re spanning a half-mile boulevard called West Franklin for the next year. The artists are all members of a group called Chicago Sculpture International.<br /><br />Karpowicz takes me to a pile of rings made of industrial tubing.<br /><br />KARPOWICZ: That&rsquo;s a sculpture by Dusty Falwarczny. The title of the sculpture is &ldquo;Scrap.&rdquo; I measure that one as, probably, a three-shopping-cart operation.<br />MITCHELL: You measure the volume by shopping carts?<br />KARPOWICZ: That&rsquo;s how many shopping carts it&rsquo;ll take to get that to a scrap yard. Because you see a lot of hardworking men with shopping carts and they pick up debris and take it to recycling places.<br />MITCHELL: Have you ever lost one of your works to shopping carts?<br />KARPOWICZ: No, thank goodness.<br /><br />And there&rsquo;s more to see. Karpowicz shows me a giant, spiky sphere made of orange traffic cones. And there&rsquo;s a stainless-steel piece called &ldquo;Abduction.&rdquo;<br /><br />The installation is definitely capturing attention in the neighborhood.<br /><br />MAN: Oh, man, that&rsquo;s cool. Who did that?<br />WOMAN: It beautifies the neighborhood.<br />MAN: It&rsquo;s really nice for the block.<br />GRANT: I like them.<br />MITCHELL: What&rsquo;s your name?<br />GRANT: My name is Felincia Grant.<br />MITCHELL: Do any of the pieces stick out to you -- that you can really relate to?<br />GRANT: The one that&rsquo;s all the way down on Franklin and Kedzie. It looks like a hook. Actually, to be honest with you, I had a nephew that was--there used to be a tree there. My nephew ran into this tree. And that&rsquo;s where he died. And that piece, right there, it was put where the tree was.<br />MITCHELL: Does it remind you of him?<br />GRANT: Yeah. He had these hooked attitudes at times. He made a lot of bad choices. But he was a good kid.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s easy to find people who admire at least some of the 10 new sculptures in East Garfield Park. It&rsquo;s harder to find folks who have a beef with the installation, but they are around.<br /><br />FIELDS: My name is Cy Fields.<br /><br />Fields is pastor of New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, a few blocks southeast of the parkway.<br /><br />FIELDS: It seems like they just plopped artwork in the community and just sort of said, &lsquo;Well, here it is and, surprise, I hope you enjoy it.&rsquo; I&rsquo;m not against community beautification and artwork, but I think the process and the end goal are very important. Many schools are struggling to have art classes in the schools. Can the artists come and teach the kids in East Garfield Park? Communities of color--African American and Latino--have their share of capable artists. Will their artwork be able to go to the North Side or to other communities as well? Let&rsquo;s have a cultural exchange.<br /><br />Fields isn&rsquo;t the only one talking about race. An unemployed interior decorator named Tony Green wants to know why the sculptures ended up in his neighborhood.<br /><br />GREEN: Only in the black community with no blacks involved. That&rsquo;s not personal, is it?<br /><br />These are fair questions. Karpowicz&rsquo;s group got an alderman&rsquo;s approval to put the sculptures up. But the group did not work with residents to choose the art or get them involved any other way.<br /><br />MITCHELL: How about helping artists in this community display their art here on the boulevard?<br />KARPOWICZ: Well, if those artists were members of Chicago Sculpture International, which they certainly can become part of, they&rsquo;d be the first ones on the list. It&rsquo;s not about shutting anybody out. It&rsquo;s about inclusivity.<br /><br />But then Karpowicz tells me the group&rsquo;s got a hundred and forty-nine members and not one is African American.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Why is that? Something like a third or 40 percent of the population here in the city is African American. <br />KARPOWICZ: We don&rsquo;t reach out, we don&rsquo;t publicize. As a result of an exhibition like this, if there are sculptors out there who happen to be African American [and] they want to be sculptors, the door is open. It&rsquo;s always open.<br /><br />He points out annual memberships cost only 25 dollars.<br /><br />Karpowicz and I keep talking as he shows me some sculptures toward the end of the parkway. He reminds me they&rsquo;ll be up in East Garfield Park only a year.<br /><br />KARPOWICZ: A lot of the people who live around here probably wouldn&rsquo;t venture downtown to see sculpture. And this is our opportunity, as part of the sculpture community of Chicago, to bring art to the communities.<br />MITCHELL: Where we&rsquo;re standing right now, we&rsquo;ve got a vacant lot on this side and we&rsquo;ve got another vacant lot we&rsquo;re standing in right now. The population here--they&rsquo;re not going to be buying these pieces afterwards.<br />KARPOWICZ: No, they probably won&rsquo;t, Chip, but I think they&rsquo;ll appreciate art a lot more. They&rsquo;ll appreciate sculpture. Next time they see a piece of art, they&rsquo;ll say, &lsquo;Oh yeah, we had one of those in our neighborhood once.&rsquo;<br /><br />If this installation works out, Karpowicz says his group&rsquo;ll try to bring sculptures to other Chicago boulevards. Next time, he says, the artists will try harder to get the neighborhood involved.</p></p> Wed, 08 Dec 2010 22:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/abductions/when-someone-else%E2%80%99s-art-lands-your-neighborhood Suburban school district vows to defend expulsion http://www.wbez.org/story/african-americans/suburban-school-district-vows-defend-expulsion <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-November/2010-11-04/ProvisoEast.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A suburban school district says it&rsquo;ll fight a lawsuit aimed at overturning the expulsion of a student. Proviso Township High Schools says kicking him out was necessary for the safety of other students. <br /><br />Proviso East High School in west suburban Maywood claims Coris Ashford, 17, took part in a hallway fight that injured a student last May. The district says it caught the fight on videotape. Officials expelled Ashford and two other students until next August.<br /><br />Ashford&rsquo;s mother, Erica Edmond, says the punishment is not justifiable. &ldquo;They didn&rsquo;t show me the videotape,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;They didn&rsquo;t show me any type of proof that my son did anything.&rdquo;<br /><br />In a statement Thursday afternoon, the district says it gave each student due process and will defend itself &ldquo;to the fullest extent.&rdquo;<br /><br />In July, a Cook County judge threw out a Proviso East expulsion that involved an unrelated incident last year.<br /><br />In September, WBEZ found that the school district has been suspending or expelling one in three of its students each year.</p></p> Thu, 04 Nov 2010 21:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/african-americans/suburban-school-district-vows-defend-expulsion Assessor election suggests white reformers ought not go it alone http://www.wbez.org/story/african-americans/assessor-election-suggests-white-reformers-ought-not-go-it-alone <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-November/2010-11-03/Claypool_at_Salem.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The results of a fiercely contested Cook County election are exposing a gulf between white liberals and minority voters.<br /><br />Forrest Claypool&rsquo;s anti-machine rhetoric has proven popular over the years with white progressives. But he needed broader support to beat Democrat Joe Berrios in Tuesday&rsquo;s Cook County assessor election.<br /><br />In particular, Claypool had to do better in heavily minority neighborhoods than when he tried to unseat Cook County Board President John Stroger in 2006.<br /><br />He didn&rsquo;t do better.<br /><br />Jamiko Rose, executive director of the Organization of the Northeast, said the results show how far the progressive movement has to go. &ldquo;We need to identify the issues that different ethnic communities care about and build relationships and work on those issues,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />Many community organizers say a good-government agenda isn&rsquo;t enough. They say reformers also need to focus on issues like jobs, schools and public safety.</p></p> Wed, 03 Nov 2010 22:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/african-americans/assessor-election-suggests-white-reformers-ought-not-go-it-alone