Cooling Centers Close Too Early Amid Dangerous Heat, Putting Residents — Especially Those Who Are Homeless — At Risk, Some Say

By Mack Liederman  June 15, 2022

CHICAGO — Advocates for people experiencing homelessness are calling on the city to extend the hours cooling centers are open as Chicago is in the midst of dangerous heat.

City libraries, park field houses and six community centers serve as cooling centers where any resident can go for air conditioning and water when temperatures spike. The city opened them this week as the city faced near-record-high temperatures, with some days feeling warmer than 100 degrees.

But the majority of the centers close at or before 5 p.m. Only one — the Garfield Center, 10 S. Kedzie Ave. — is open 24 hours.

Continue reading Cooling Centers Close Too Early Amid Dangerous Heat, Putting Residents — Especially Those Who Are Homeless — At Risk, Some Say

Chicago Latina Files Lawsuit Challenging False Arrest By Chicago Police

CHICAGO – A Chicago police officer’s obscene verbal tirade escalated into the officer’s physical assault and false arrest of a Chicago woman in June 2020, according to a federal lawsuit filed today. Chicago police are accused of unlawfully arresting Julie Campos, a Southside Latina resident—who was 19 years old at the time—at her place of employment, a Family Dollar store located on East 79th Street. The ACLU of Illinois (“ACLU”), the Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (“CCH”), and the law firm of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP are representing Ms. Campos in the lawsuit challenging false arrest. 
 
Ms. Campos was working at the store on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, cleaning up property damage that had occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. The lawsuit asserts that, after Ms. Campos videoed the officer who physically assaulted her, Ms. Campos was falsely arrested on a trumped-up charge and unlawfully detained for hours—separated from her infant son. 

White text in all caps on a blue gradient background reads "Julie Campos v. City Of Chicago, Eric Taylor, and Treacher Howard" Center below text is the CCH Logo, a cartoon person crouched in a white house, to the right of logo reads " Law Project, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless". Lawsuit Challenges False Arrest.

“I was confused and scared throughout this entire experience,” said Ms. Campos. “It was shocking that just getting up and going to work could result in being arrested.” 

“The body cam and other video of this incident show a CPD officer completely out of control. The City never should have allowed this officer onto the street,” said Joshua Levin, staff attorney for the ACLU. The officer has a lengthy history of civilian complaints, but never had been adequately disciplined or retrained by the Chicago Police Department. 

Arturo Hernandez, a senior attorney at CCH, stated, “Ms. Campos, a young mother who was experiencing housing instability at the time, was at work trying to provide for her family when she endured this horrific experience at the hands of Chicago Police officers. This should not happen to anyone. If CPD doesn’t take action to adequately train their officers, or adequately discipline officers who engage in misconduct like the officers in this case—how will relations between the community and the police change?” 

The officers’ body camera video shows CPD Officers Eric Taylor and Treacher Howard pulled into the store parking lot where employees were busy cleaning up so that the business could reopen to serve the community. Ms. Campos was making repeated trips in and out of the back entrance to throw out trash from the damaged store. 

Content Warning: the following may be uncomfortable for some viewers. Jump to 10:30 for interaction.

While in the store parking lot, Officer Taylor instigated a shouting match with one of Ms. Campos’ coworkers. Officer Taylor made vulgar sexual comments about the employee’s mother and oral sex, using racist epithets. 

“Officer Taylor’s dehumanizing language—and his completely unnecessary escalation of conflict with this community member—is maddening to watch,” Levin added. “These Chicagoans were at work just doing their jobs.” 

After Officer Taylor’s argument with the employee, Ms. Campos continued cleaning the store. As she was carrying boxes through the store doorway to the dumpster, Ms. Campos came face-to-face with Officer Taylor, who was charging inside. Unbeknownst to Ms. Campos, Officer Taylor was looking to arrest Ms. Campos’ coworker, with whom he had instigated the earlier argument. Frightened by the officer coming toward her, Ms. Campos momentarily froze. Officer Taylor said “step back, step back,” then grabbed Ms. Campos, forcibly shoved her, and struck her face. As Ms. Campos fell backward, Officer Taylor, his partner Officer Howard, and other CPD officers entered the store. No one checked to see if Ms. Campos had been injured.  

As Officer Taylor stomped through the store, Ms. Campos pulled out her phone and began recording him and saying that he had punched her. Although Ms. Campos had a First Amendment right to record Officer Taylor and criticize his misconduct, Officer Taylor approached her, twisted her arms—forcing her to stop recording—and placed her under arrest for purportedly obstructing a police officer. 

“There was no legal basis whatsoever to arrest Ms. Campos for ‘obstructing an officer’; this was a blatant violation of Ms. Campos’s constitutional rights,” the ACLU’s Levin explained.    

Ms. Campos was taken to a CPD station, where she was detained and physically restrained for nearly five hours. While holding Ms. Campos in custody, Officers Taylor and Howard refused to tell her when she would be released and when she would be able to see her one-year-old son again. Defendant Taylor even taunted Ms. Campos about her inability to contact her child or her child’s daycare while in custody. 

Months later, the false charge against Ms. Campos was dropped.  

“My hope is that this lawsuit will help make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said Ms. Campos. “I’m concerned that something like this could happen to me again. But I’m more afraid for when my Latino son grows up. I’m afraid for what could happen to him if we continue to have police officers like Officer Taylor patrolling this city.” 

“Not only was Ms. Campos arrested and detained when she did not do anything wrong, but the officers lied on the police reports. They fabricated information to cover up the false arrest—a widespread practice CPD officers use to conceal misconduct,” said Levin. 

“This sort of behavior by CPD officers is the antithesis of public safety and constitutional policing,” Levin added. “And the City is directly responsible because it fails to adequately train, supervise, and discipline officers like Taylor who have egregious records of misconduct.” Officer Taylor has racked up more civilian complaints than 93% of other officers. Levin explained: “This case exemplifies the City’s systemic failure to take abusive officers off the streets.” 

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If you or someone you know is in a transitory living situation and needs legal support the Law Project can be reached weekdays on its toll-free helpline:  1 (800) 940-1119.

Related Media Coverage:

Video of Police Cam footage: https://youtu.be/rCNyyBjFeoI

Tribune

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-aclu-lawsuit-chicago-police-arrest-20220526-ywksug2l75gwxg34eulugt2uoe-story.html   

Sun Times 

https://chicago.suntimes.com/2022/5/26/23143373/federal-suit-alleges-cpd-officer-struck-falsely-arrested-woman-recording-misconduct-2020

Univision Chicago

https://www.univision.com/local/chicago-wgbo/hispana-presenta-demanda-contra-policia-de-chicago-por-falso-arresto-y-agresion

Crains: The mansion tax proposal is back, and it’s less hated than it used to be

By DENNIS RODKIN  April 11, 2022

Wolcott Bucktown 1 million plus

A revived effort to make buyers of high-end homes pay an additional tax to help homelessness may have come at the right time, as some real estate industry sources say affluent homebuyers “won’t flinch” at paying it. 
 
After running the gauntlet of finding a home in a market where inventory is tight, bidding is competitive and prices are rising fast, buyers “aren’t going to blink at paying one more fee, which is what this tax is,” said Leslie Struthers, senior loan officer at the mortgage firm Guaranteed Rate

Continue reading Crains: The mansion tax proposal is back, and it’s less hated than it used to be

Austin Weekly News: West Side alderpeople split over homelessness resolution

By Igor Studenkov April 8, 2021

Two West Side alderpeople took very different positions on a proposal to create a dedicated funding stream for addressing homelessness during a town hall held March 31 at Deborah’s Place, a homeless services provider located at 2822 W. Jackson Blvd. in East Garfield Park.

For the past few years, Bring Chicago Home, a coalition made up of affordable housing providers, social service organizations and labor unions, have been urging the city to raise the Real Estate Transfer Tax for properties worth more than $1 million in order to fund initiatives to tackle homelessness.
Continue reading Austin Weekly News: West Side alderpeople split over homelessness resolution

Block Club: West Side Health Centers, Shelters Push For City Law To Devote More Money For Homelessness Prevention

By Pascal Sabino April 7, 2021

EAST GARFIELD PARK — Shelters, medical providers and social service groups are pushing West Side alderpeople to back a campaign to generate tens of millions of city dollars for preventing homelessness.

Housing advocates detailed the campaign, Bring Chicago Home, at a March 31 town hall at Deborah’s Place, a women’s shelter in East Garfield Park.

The coalition members — UCAN, Franciscan Outreach, Saint Anthony Hospital, West Side United and Loretto Hospital — aims to place a referendum on ballot for the November general election that would ask Chicagoans if they’d support increasing the Real Estate Transfer Tax by 1.9 percent on properties sold for more than $1 million.

Continue reading Block Club: West Side Health Centers, Shelters Push For City Law To Devote More Money For Homelessness Prevention

Newcity: Today In The Culture, March 29, 2022: Designing DuSable Park | Giuseppe Tentori Sandwiches | “Of Mice and Men” Ballet

By RAY PRIDE

March 29, 2022

“The Chicago Park District selected Carol Ross Bar­ney and Brook Archi­tec­ture to design DuSable Park—one of the city’s most anticipated and symbolism-laden public projects. Planned since 1987, the park will be located on reclaimed land at the meeting of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River and will honor Jean Baptiste Point DuSable,” reports Architectural Record. “My partner RaMona Westbrook [of Brook Architecture] did an immense amount of research about Jean Baptiste DuSable before we turned our proposal in,” she says in an interview.

Continue reading Newcity: Today In The Culture, March 29, 2022: Designing DuSable Park | Giuseppe Tentori Sandwiches | “Of Mice and Men” Ballet

Block Club: City Should Boost Spending On Homeless Services By Raising Taxes On The Priciest Property Sales, ‘Bring Chicago Home’ Organizers Say

By Maxwell Evans Mar. 25, 2021

HYDE PARK — Diavionne “China” Brown, tired of being subjected to mental and physical abuse in an unstable living situation, left home in October.

Upon leaving, Brown experienced the struggles of homelessness and life in shelters — including her first shelter, where poor living conditions and institutional control left the 21-year-old “feeling like I was in jail,” she said.

Brown has since found a residence through the Expedited Housing Initiative, but some of her friends — like 58,000 other Chicagoans, according to pre-pandemic estimates — are still without a permanent place to live.
Continue reading Block Club: City Should Boost Spending On Homeless Services By Raising Taxes On The Priciest Property Sales, ‘Bring Chicago Home’ Organizers Say

Lawrence viaduct tent fire is one more sign Chicago needs to house our homeless

By  John Greenfield

March 23, 2022

The south sidewalk of the Lawrence DLSD viaduct after Tuesday’s blaze. Photo: John Greenfield

On March 9 Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the city would be directing more police resources to the CTA, and doubling the number of unarmed transit security guards in response to a spike in violent crime and problematic rule-breaking, such as harassment and smoking, on buses and trains.

Continue reading Lawrence viaduct tent fire is one more sign Chicago needs to house our homeless

WGEM: Illinois lawmakers could boost TANF benefits this year

By Mike Miletich

March 17, 2022

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) – Low-income families in Illinois who receive TANF benefits could get an extra boost thanks to a proposal in Springfield.

Rep. Marcus Evans (D-Chicago) said the Illinois Department of Human Services should increase grant amounts for temporary assistance for needy families. The state currently provides 30% of the federal poverty guidelines for each family size. Evans would like to see that raised to 50%.

His bill could help a family of three currently receiving $549 per month from TANF get $915 in benefits. Evans said his plan also allows dollars for child support to go directly to parents or guardians instead of the current system where some of the money is dispersed by the state.

Continue reading WGEM: Illinois lawmakers could boost TANF benefits this year

Streets Blog Chicago: Homeless coalition hopes CTA security plan won’t “criminalize” unhoused people on the ‘L’

By Amber Drea

March 14, 2022

Unarmed CTA security guards on the Jackson Blue Line platform. Photo: John Greenfield

Last Wednesday Mayor Lori Lightfoot, along with the heads of the Chicago Police Department and the CTA, announced at a press conference that police resources would be shifted from the Bureau of Counterterrorism to the ‘L’ system in order to address the spike in violent crime on transit during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when many Chicagoans have been experiencing economic and mental health crises. The deployed officers (asked how many, police chief David Brown simply said replied, “As much as we need to send to the CTA to make it safe,”) will focus on the 24-hour Red and Blue lines, using data to target high-crime stops with an emphasis on preventing gang- and drug-related violence.

Continue reading Streets Blog Chicago: Homeless coalition hopes CTA security plan won’t “criminalize” unhoused people on the ‘L’