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Activists Blast 'Leftist Cool Kids' After Anti-Gentrification Vandalism Of Alderman's Office

By Stephen Gossett in News on May 9, 2017 6:40PM

From time to time, we've seen businesses in certain neighborhoods in Chicago targeted with anti-gentrification vandalism. (Recall Bow Truss, in Pilsen, and Grandma J's, in Humboldt Park—both now shuttered). But an alderman's office? That was a first for us. It happened last week, when vandals busted the glass door of the offices of Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st). The tag "Gentrifier" had been spray-painted next to the shattered-out door, as first reported by DNAinfo.

"It will not deter my efforts to bring economic progress, which provides opportunities for all types of people, into the 1st Ward," Moreno fired back in a statement, calling the vandalism "cowardly." Affordable-housing groups—not always the first to rush to defense of Moreno—nevertheless seem to concur with that characterization. The Chicago Housing Initiative, which advocates for low-income residents, is the most recent activist group to denounce the smash-and-tag.

"Think bigger" was the message put forth to the property damagers in a fabulously snarky release:

CHI said in part:

"Yes, an unregulated housing market is going to wreak havoc on all communities where developers see a profit potential, and yes, profit potential in an unfettered capital system is synonymous with displacement. Communities that can be flipped are communities that can be profited from. And the inverse: Communities that are profited from are communities that are flipped, destroyed, re-made, obliterated. Yes, the plight of low-income families and especially low-income families of color is being monetized by this system. Yes, this system is violent and cruel. And yes, it needs to be transformed.

But smashing windows doesn’t transform. It doesn’t educate, it doesn’t call us together or build our capacity to make change. It just scapegoats a single public official for a broken system, very little of which he has control or influence over."

Moreo shared the statement on the First Ward's Facebook page. He wrote in part:

"I have always said I am willing to work with any person or group, because I know I don't have all the answers. It's easy to point out the problem. I think we all know what the problem is and if you are willing to help, I am willing to listen to your solutions. Not all solutions will be feasible, but perhaps they will help springboard into a realistic, workable plan that will benefit everyone."

Somos Logan Square, another prominent local advocacy group, which has often butted heads with Moreno in the past over gentrification and lack of affordable housing in Logan, condemned the vandalism shortly after it was reported.

Moreno's office sits just east of the North and California intersection (2740 W. North Ave). His ward map scans like a continuum from gentrifying to rapidly gentrifying to full-bore, rare-earth magnet for development. It includes parts of Logan Square and Humboldt Park (which his office essentially straddles) plus Wicker Park, West Town and Ukrainian Village.

Logan Square and Humboldt both continue to endure as major flashpoints for gentrification debates, as does Moreno himself at times. Activists demonstrated outside a $50-dollar-a-head dinner and discussion that Moreno led about the topic in January. In March, his office confirmed that he and Ald. Roberto Maldonado (Ward 26) are working on an affordable-housing ordinance to target properties near the 606 pedestrian/bike trail—along which, last year, single-family home prices shot up 48.2 percent in Logan and Humboldt.

[H/T Curbed]