Helen will be re-elected February 27 this year, marking her twentieth anniversary as Chicago's 46th Ward Alderman. Unfortunately, the group of Helen haters showed up next to our residence as we live next to Joan Arai School, where a Non-Violence Rally was held just a week ago Saturday. Though inside the school a mostly African American audience celebrated with Helen, Mayor Daley, and Chicago's superintendent of police the school's multi-faceted plan involving students and community, the virtually all-white marchers outside yelled angrily as families worked past them to enter the school.
It was a very ugly incident, and without further ado, I offer this further recounting of it by a friend, Jane Hertenstein. She allowed Blue Christian to reprint her letter to the editor of a Chicago newspaper here.
Last Saturday I had to make my way through a crowd of angry protesters to attend an Anti-Violence Rally at the Uplift School [Joan Arai]. It would be funny if it wasn’t so disturbing. Alderman Shiller along with community leaders organized the event in order to bring attention to what is being done in the Uptown area. The mayor was there to support our local law enforcement.
In addition about a hundred or so students from Uplift and Senn High School were in attendance. A large part of the program was dedicated to recognizing several students for being “upstanding,” standing up for what is right and taking a stand against violence. Awards and certificates were handed out by Principal Morris as well as public recognition for the school’s girls basketball team and math team—city-wide winners.
It is for those kids that I feel most concerned. These boys and girls gave up their Saturday morning for an Anti-Violence Rally—only to be taunted by the chanting, jeering crowd using a bullhorn to belittle the rally as a political maneuver.
Excuse me? What were they implying:
"No more felons, Get rid of Helen."
"No more fake meetings."
It was this group of protesters that turned the event into a platform for their brand of divisive politics. No matter where a person stands in the debate over affordable housing these kids don’t deserve to be placed in the middle or have their accomplishments degraded.Perhaps those folks needed to attend the rally instead of standing out front, blocking the sidewalks and harassing the people coming into the school. If the sentiments expressed inside the gymnasium of getting along and working toward unity and peace are going to be achieved, then we might have to look to the young people to be our models.
resident of Uptown
Mayor Daley speaks to the crowd at the Anti-Violence Rally at Uplift Community School, thanking Helen for her central role in UpLift's success.