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A West Loop Street Was Hit With 'KKK' Graffiti Vandalism

By Stephen Gossett in News on May 4, 2017 6:00PM

Racist graffiti was spotted on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning in the West Loop, with "KKK" seen scrawled across three roadside traffic safety barriers on Madison Street, near the I-90/I-94 ramp. The hateful graffiti was removed on Thursday morning, according to the Department of Streets and Sanitation.

West Loop resident Moshe Tamssot first posted a photograph taken by an anonymous member of the True West Loop community board on Wednesday evening.

Tamssot said he notified authorities on Wednesday and snapped his own photos on Thursday morning of the racist vandalism (see above), which he said was still there at around 9:30 a.m. Streets and Sanitation spokesperson Sara McGann told Chicagoist at around 11:20 a.m. that the deputy commissioner of the department's graffiti program confirmed that the vandalism has since been removed.

McGann said that there's usually a three- to five-day timetable for getting rid of graffiti, but anything racially or hate motivated is pushed to a top priority.

Chicago police said that a case report has been generated, but no one was in custody as of Thursday morning. "[T]here is no camera footage to share at this time," police said.

While it's unclear who's responsible for the hate-speech vandalism, Tamssot sees it as emblematic of broader undertones of intolerance within pockets of the West Loop community.

"This is the overt expression of racism in the West Loop, which is mostly covert," Tamssot said. Tamssot pointed to the multi-million dollar expansion of Skinner West Elementary School (despite its proximity to an underused school of predominantly low-income students) and a new public library near the bustling, gentrified Restaurant Row (despite the "underused" Manning branch being just roughly two miles west, in a non-gentrified area).

"Ald. Walter Burnett said it best when he said the West Loop was becoming a bigoted neighborhood," Tamssot said, referencing the 27 Ward rep's 2015 comments about homeowner opposition to rental properties.

Chicago has seen multiple acts of high-profile, racially-charged acts of vandalism within the last several months. UChicago was targeted with racist posters in December of last year and January and February of this year. Perhaps most notably, Pilsen man Stuart Wright faces a hate-crime charge in the vandalism of a Loop synagogue earlier this year.