Black activists march on CHA headquarters

Black activists march on CHA headquarters

More than a hundred people gather for a rally Monday outside the Chicago Housing Authority headquarters in the Loop, to decry economic disparities for Black communities in the city. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

On Monday, several Black-led community activism organizations gathered outside of the Chicago Housing Authority to demand local, state and federal government support in Chicago’s marginalized Black neighborhoods.

About 100 protesters gathered outside the Chicago Housing Authority offices Monday morning, demanding better funding for the city’s Black communities.

“Cut us in or cut it out!” they chanted.

“We want funding in this city, county and state to be prioritized for the most marginalized people in this city, county and state: Black people,” said Bamani Obadele, an organizer with Don’t Count Us Out.

Don’t Count Us Out led the May Day Movement March at 60 E. Van Buren St., demanding, among other things, that Chicago create an Office of North American Descendants of Slaves to address economic disparities for Black communities.

The city office would address equitable distribution of resources to predominantly Black neighborhoods similar to the Office of New Americans, which helps the immigrant and refugee communities in Chicago.

Another major demand of the demonstrators was that the CHA prioritize contracting businesses owned by low-income individuals on all future job sites through programs like the Section 3 Jobs Order Contracting program, which mentors low-income contracting firms and helps them get higher and higher paying contracts.

They also asked that half of all future city, county and state contracts be set aside for Black-owned businesses and nonprofits.

“We will not stand to see other people come into our neighborhoods and develop our neighborhoods,” said Jacqueline Reed, founder of Westside Health Authority, who helped organize the event.

Protesters asked that the city end qualified immunity, which protects government officials and law enforcement officers from some lawsuits, in Chicago policing and establish an independent civilian review police board by the end of the year that, unlike the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, would have hiring and firing power over CPD.

Tyrone Muhammad, founder of Ex-Cons for Community and Social Change, called for a moratorium on the cannabis industry at the event until convicted drug offenders who were arrested before the state legalized recreational use were released from Illinois prisons.

“We own nothing in our community, yet we claim to be citizens of this city,” Muhammad said. “It’s wrong for us to be incarcerated at that rate, yet we don’t have any opportunity for employment.”

Don’t Count Us Out is a political action group which advocates for racial and economic justice through effective government programs and is affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research.

Don’t Count Us Out was joined by several other community organizations including The New Black Leadership Coalition, Black Contractors United Inc., the Ex-Cons for Community and Social Change, the What’s In It For The Black People Coalition and Westside Health Authority Every Block A Village.

What’s In It For The Black People said it wants to organize 100,000 new Black voters for future local and state elections around the issues brought up at the event.

“We are here for the self interests of Black people,” said Maze Jackson, who came to the event with What’s In It For The Black People. “So many times the message gets confused.”

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