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Protesters Block Traffic On Lake Shore Drive In Support Of Homeless Rights In Uptown

By Stephen Gossett in News on Sep 7, 2017 4:10PM

Protesters block traffic on Lake Shore Drive on Thursday morning / Facebook

Three people were arrested after protesters blocked southbound traffic on Lake Shore Drive, near Montrose, on Thursday morning in support of homeless residents who reside beneath viaducts in Uptown. The residents—who take shelter in tent encampments under the bridges—were told last month to vacate by Sept. 18 ahead of bridge repair and bike-lane installation. The residents and advocates are calling for guaranteed permanent housing.

Residents of the tent encampments and homeless-advocacy protesters took to Lake Shore Drive at around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, creating a standing line and a barrier with homeless people's tents.

Video coverage of the demonstration shows protesters carrying signs with messages like "CDOT Discriminate Not" and singing "This Land Is Your Land." "We want housing like everybody else," chanted demonstrators.

Police started to clear away the tents about 10 minutes into the traffic-blocking protest. Three men were arrested, according to CPD spokesperson Michael Carroll. Those arrested were Pastor Fred Kinsey, of Unity Lutheran Church in Uptown; Mark Saulys, a tent-city resident of the viaducts; and Adam Gianforte, according to activist group One Northside. Another resident who helped block the Drive, Carol Aldape, was taken to a hospital "due to medical concerns," according to the group.

Homeless residents of the so-called tent cities reside under the viaducts at North Lake Shore Drive and West Lawrence Avenue, and Lake Shore Drive and West Wilson Drive, one block south. Both bridges are crumbling and in need of repair. (The bridges are two of the most heavily traveled structurally deficient bridges in Illinois.) They are being told to vacate by Sept. 18 to make way for those repairs—which will also the concurrent installation of bike lanes along the sidewalk where the homeless residents set up tent shelter.

According to DNAinfo, social service agencies told tent-city residents last month they could relocate to one of three shelters amid the displacement. Advocates—who have seen Uptown's homeless population and shelter demand swell in recent years—are calling for permanent housing for the affected peoples.

"We are not done until we all get housing," Louis Jones, an Uptown tent city resident, said in a release sent by One Northside. "Last year, some of us were left behind: the city provided to housing to some, but not all of us. It was a damn cold winter. Unless the city meets our demands, that all of us receive permanent housing, some of us are going to get left behind again."