Fighting for an end to deportations

Dozens of immigration activists, elected officials, faith and labor leaders were arrested Wednesday evening for blocking Congress Parkway—the street outside an immigration building downtown Chicago. The group resorted to this act of civil disobedience out of frustration over the lack of progress in passing immigration reform, organizers said. They demanded that House Republicans vote for immigration reform and that President Barack Obama put an end to deportations. At the end of this act of civil disobedience, 142 people, including five Chicago aldermen and two county commissioners, were arrested.

South Shore renters ‘trapped’ in foreclosure nightmare

The Chicago Housing Authority is supposed to cut off landlords if their buildings fail too many inspections. But a Chicago Reporter investigation found that 6751 S. Jeffery Blvd.—like thousands of other subsidized private rentals—has struggled to pass for years. Tenants have had little recourse because, until they get their security deposit returned, they don’t have the money to move. Meanwhile, the building’s owners collected more than $178,000 in federal rent subsidies in just four years.

Forgotten voices

Down North Hudson Avenue on Chicago’s Near North Side, the remaining Frances Cabrini Rowhouses invoke a haunting memory of the community that once existed in the area. When the last Cabrini-Green high-rise was demolished in 2011, all that remained of the vast public housing complex were the rowhouses. The Chicago Housing Authority had plans to renovate the units for displaced residents, but most of the rowhouses are still boarded up and caged behind tall chain-link fences. Walking through the rowhouses, it is hard not to wonder about the lives and stories that make up Cabrini-Green’s history.

Cases dismissed

Thousands of defendants spend days, weeks and even months in Cook County’s criminal courts each year on low-level charges. Odds are that their cases will be dismissed. Last year, 77,000 people were booked in the Cook County Jail, mostly on nonviolent crimes. People unable to post bond languish behind bars awaiting trial.

McDonald’s workers protest wages, target company president

More than 20 McDonald’s workers and members of the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago demonstrated Friday outside the Union League Club of Chicago, where McDonald’s USA president Jeff Stratton spoke. Protesters brandishing megaphones and signs called for a $15-per-hour minimum wage and the right to unionize without retaliation as part of the Fight for 15 campaign, which calls for an improved standard of living for Chicago workers. The protesters chanted slogans like “We can’t survive on 8.25”and “Hold your burgers, hold your fries, make our wages supersize.” Drivers honked their approval, and bus riders cheered the picket line and raised their fists in solidarity. For more, visit our Muckrakers blog.

Thousands commemorate March on Washington’s 50th anniversary

Tens of thousands from all across the country made their way Saturday to the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. On Aug. 28, 1963, several hundred thousand had stood in sweltering heat to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his historic “I Have A Dream” speech from steps of the memorial. At this past weekend’s 50th Anniversary March on Washington, speakers included  Martin Luther King III, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Georgia Rep. John Lewis and members of the families of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin. “Dreams are for those who won’t accept reality as it is, so they dream of what is not there and make it possible,” Sharpton, who helped organize the event, told the cheering, nodding and clapping throngs that descended on the nation’s capital city. 

Chicago rallies for Trayvon Martin and social justice

A week after a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin, hundreds of people turned out Saturday afternoon in Chicago to protest the verdict. The plaza in front of the Dirksen Federal Building resonated with shouts for justice for Martin, with marchers holding signs and wearing various shirts donning Martin’s face or a simple silhouette of a hooded figure. Nearly 1,000 people listened to speakers including comedian Paul Mooney, civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp. Following the rally, about 300 supporters marched to the ABC7 Chicago studios on State and Lake Streets. Identical rallies would be held each week until justice is served, organizers said.

[Photos by Juan Antonio Labreche]