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Emails Show Support For Riot Fest In Humboldt Park Despite Pushback

By Rachel Cromidas in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 9, 2015 8:30PM

The obligatory crowd surfing at Riot Fest. (Jessica Mlinaric/Chicagoist)

Riot Fest is poised to begin in Douglas Park this weekend, despite a gauntlet of trials and oppositional forces, including most recently an eleventh-hour lawsuit against the three-day music fest.

But before Riot Fest was making a case for the fest to the aldermen and community stakeholders around Douglas Park, it was bluntly kicked out of Humboldt Park, its home for the past two years, by Ald. Roberto Maldonado. Maldonado cited staunch community opposition to the fest as a main reason it was not welcome to return the park for a third year, among other factors. But a cache of emails obtained by the Tribune under a public records request shows that support for the fest to remain in Humboldt Park vastly outnumbered the opposition to the fest.

"I'm incredibly disappointed that you've opted to deny Riot Fest the appropriate permits to hold their festival in Humboldt Park, forcing them to move to Douglas Park," one emailer wrote Maldonado in May. "I sincerely hope that the festival brings economic and social benefits to Douglas Park and the surrounding neighborhood, boosting the value of that area of the city and helping the residents and businesses in that community thrive ... it will make you look like a fool for rejecting a group that has worked its hardest to prove themselves an ally to the Humboldt Park community."

All told, Maldonado received over 150 emails about Riot Fest after he announced that he would not allow the fest to return to Humboldt Park. The Tribune reports that fewer than one in ten emails expressed support for his decision.

"I support shutting it down. I've been a patron of the fest for years, but I think this is the wrong place for this festival," another email reads. "It was much better when it was contained to bars. Not only is it disrupting the surrounding neighborhoods, the amount of trash left behind and utter destruction of property is unacceptable."