About 50 people gathered in Edgewater on Thursday to protest the city’s process for deciding to use a Chicago Park District facility to shelter asylum seekers.
The city has been under a state of emergency for months as it seeks to house the 11,500 migrants who’ve been bused or flown in from Texas with no warning.
A community meeting was scheduled for Thursday night inside Broadway Armory, following the protest. The building is operated by the Chicago Park District for summer day camps, a fitness center, a senior center and a host of other programs and activities.
Earlier this week, a letter signed by the Chicago Park District superintendent and two deputy mayors informed neighbors who use Broadway Armory that it would be used as a temporary shelter for asylum seekers beginning Aug. 1 — and that many programs will either be moved off site for much of the day or end early.
In a statement to constituents, Ald. Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth (48th Ward) said: “While I disagree with the decision-making process, I agree with the mission of supporting new arrivals wholeheartedly. We have a moral responsibility to help those who arrive in our ward.”
Manaa-Hoppenworth was expected to participate in Thursday night’s community meeting.
In a statement, 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice (48WN4J) said the group “supports the Mayor’s office in including the Broadway Armory as a location to support and house these vulnerable families. … Edgewater, Andersonville, Uptown and surrounding neighborhoods have always been welcoming to new neighbors seeking a new life and refuge from state repression elsewhere.”
The group said it intends to find ways to support the new arrivals once the temporary shelter is open.
Since January of this year, 67 buses of migrants have arrived in the city — 59 of which came in since May alone.
There are currently more than 5,400 new arrivals in 13 city shelters, including 1,400 children and teens.
Nearly 950 asylum seekers are still sleeping on the floors of police stations and both O’Hare and Midway airports.
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