October 19, 2023

Today Brighton Park and McKinley Park experienced a heartbreaking event. At a protest over the proposed tent camp at 38th & California, racist sentiments were expressed by a faction of attendees. Alderwoman Julia Ramirez and a member of her staff were physically attacked. While recognizing that the majority of people in attendance acted peacefully, the McKinley Park Development Council unequivocally denounces the hateful rhetoric and behavior demonstrated by those who did not.

One of the factors that gave rise to the McKinley Park Development Council was that we wanted our Southwest Side community to have more of a voice and role in determining what was best for us, our neighbors, our local business and our families. We had experienced decisions affecting our community being made with little or no input or transparency for years under the former alderpeople and mayors.

We believe in robust community discussion and participation – something that we consistently promote. However, the anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric surfacing in Brighton Park and McKinley Park social media pages the past week is heartbreaking. The violence that erupted at a protest of the proposed site of an asylum-seeker tent camp at 38th & California today is unconscionable.

We send well wishes to Alderwoman Julia Ramirez and her staffer who were physically attacked at the protest today. We applaud the alderwoman’s efforts to hold regular community meetings and involve residents in notable development proposals for the ward. She demonstrated the same openness in proactively engaging the Ward around the siting of the 38th and California asylum-seeker tent camp, including coming to today’s protest to engage residents.

As winter approaches, many community members remain concerned about the precarious situations current asylum seekers are facing. As a neighborhood of immigrants, many of us personally know the hardships they have faced. We implore neighbors to look out for misinformation designed to whip up racist and anti-immigrant sentiment. Misleading flyers circulated around Brighton Park and a biased, inaccurate article posted on the McKinley Park News blog contributed to the heated nature of today’s events. Let us not be played into undermining our values and engaging in violence that only furthers someone else’s agenda.

We have so much love and pride for our community in McKinley Park and Brighton Park. We know that most of us here do not stand for anti-immigrant and racist behavior. We will continue to work together to build the kind of thriving, well-resourced and welcoming community that we know we deserve.