By Diane O’Connell, Community Lawyer
With great sadness, CCH learned of the passing of grassroots leader, Law Project client, and beloved community member Carol Aldape. Carol’s spirit and legacy were honored by our staff and other community members at a virtual memorial service in February.
Carol was a longtime resident of Uptown and a fighter for the rights of people experiencing homelessness. She distributed the People’s Tribune and was a contributing author to the paper. She was a leader in the campaign to obtain housing for the residents of the Wilson and Lawrence viaducts in Uptown, where she lived with her two dogs, Bella and Chief, in 2017. Carol attended and planned actions protesting the city’s failure to provide her and other homeless people with housing, and was arrested during an action after blocking traffic on Lake Shore Drive with her neighbors.
She was a named plaintiff in a class action case, Aldape v. City of Chicago, filed by the Law Project of CCH, along with Uptown People’s Law Center and pro-bono counsel at Porter Wright, alleging that the hostile re-design of the Uptown viaducts was an act of intentional discrimination against the homeless community who lived there. About the viaducts, Carol said to Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times, “It’s prime property, and I’m sure they want it for prime people.”
At the memorial service, we showed a slideshow of photos of Carol, and those present remembered her compassion for others and her courage in standing up for what she believed in. We remembered how she led the crowd in singing “This Land is Your Land” at the action shutting down Lake Shore Drive.
Mary Tarullo, Associate Director of Policy said, “Pretty much every time I had the opportunity to see her, Carol showed me what courage looks like. She put her body on the line for a life that she and everyone deserves. For her, that life included her beloved dogs and she was unapologetic about it, which is a beautiful example of how we need to be demanding that everyone has what they need to survive, as well as what they need to live well.”
Carol died at 71 years of age on December 18, 2020 of natural causes. As we mourn the loss of her voice, passion, and friendship, we honor her legacy and will remember her as a powerful leader in the fight to end homelessness.