Push to Rename Lake Shore Drive for DuSable Blocked, For Now

Video: We recap Wednesday’s City Council meeting with Ald. Andre Vasquez, Ald. David Moore, Ald. Gilbert Villegas and Ald. Jason Ervin. (Produced by Blair Paddock)

Opponents of a plan to rename 17 miles of Lake Shore Drive for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, Chicago’s first permanent non-Indigenous settler, blocked a vote on the measure Wednesday, enraging supporters of the plan, who called the move racist. 

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First proposed by Ald. David Moore (17th Ward) in 2019, the measure gained new life amid the nationwide reckoning with systemic racism prompted by the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May 2020 and the widespread protests that followed. 

But Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward) and Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th Ward) used a parliamentary procedure, known as defer and publish, to block a vote on the measure Wednesday. The maneuver automatically punts it to the next City Council meeting, scheduled for June 23. 

The measure, which would be the largest street renaming in the city’s history, is opposed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. 

Lightfoot ignored calls by Ald. Sophia King (4th Ward) — who participated in Wednesday’s meeting remotely — to immediately hold a roll call vote. Had the mayor recognized King’s motion, Hopkins and Reboyras would have been prevented from blocking a vote.

“I had my hand up, calling for a roll call vote,” King said, before being ruled out of order by Lightfoot, who recognized Hopkins and Reboyras’ motion. “Come on. Wow. This is just inequity playing out in front of us.” 

After the raucous meeting ended, Hopkins tweeted that he acted to block a vote because “a ceremonial act designed to confer honor to an historic figure (such as renaming an iconic roadway that belongs to all Chicagoans) should not be forced upon us in an atmosphere of acrimony, anger, threats, recrimination, and revenge.” 

After the vote was blocked, Moore immediately erupted in anger, vowing to use his power to block routine matters from being considered through normal order. As soon as aldermen began introducing measures to be considered next month, Moore did exactly that, sending them to the Rules Committee — which is often where legislative proposals languish in legislative purgatory. 

“It is very disappointing,” Moore said, adding that his colleagues acted out of political motivation. “It is not fair to these children and other people in this community that will benefit from renaming the outer drive to the founder of this city.” 

Moore said he had the votes to pass the measure, which could trigger a veto by Lightfoot. 

Moore said he was not surprised by Hopkins’ move, but called Reboyras’ decision “heartbreaking.” 

“That was hurtful,” Moore said. 

Moore said a member of the Lightfoot administration, whose name he could not remember, offered to rename the Dan Ryan Expressway for DuSable as long as it was “south of 35th Street.” 

Moore said that was “absolutely racist.” 

“Aldermen have to stand up,” Moore said. 

Lightfoot has said a better way to honor DuSable and his wife, Kitihawa, a member of the Potawatomi tribe, would be to complete the long-delayed DuSable Park along the Lakefront and connect it to a Riverwalk renamed in DuSable’s honor. Three statues would mark the way, Lightfoot said. 

However, Lightfoot’s proposal has been all but ignored by aldermen. 

Moore’s proposal would rename outer Lake Shore Drive from Hollywood Avenue in Edgewater to 67th Street in Woodlawn. 

That would only force three harbors along the downtown lakefront to change their addresses, resolving Hopkins’ concerns that residents would be inconvenienced, Moore said.

Video: More from our aldermen panel on City Council (Produced by Blair Paddock)

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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