Linda Johnson is an Amundsen Park community council member in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. The city has designated the park for potential migrant housing this winter.
“They claimed that they were going to come out and dialog with us about what they were going to do. But what happened is that they actually came out to tell us what they were going to do, rather than dialog to get our input. We were informed that they were going to take our park and make it a migrant shelter.”
“If they turn it into a shelter, we’re not allowed to come use the park. They began to give us other places that we could go. We have youth programming and senior programming that are being displaced. Our seniors walk to the park. It’s too far for them to go somewhere else.”
“Austin has one of the highest rates of violence in the city, and we have youth programming in this park. If you’re really concerned about violence, show it by not taking away parks that keep kids off the streets.”
“We are not anti-anything. One lady from the city made the comment to me that they are human, as if I didn’t know they are human beings. That was really an insult and insensitive to me because I feel it’s not us against them. It’s us against the way you try to do things in our community.”
“These shelters are not an adequate plan for anyone. I asked them how they were going to track the people here. If you put people all over the city, how are you going to follow up with them? How are you going to know their needs? And why would you put people where there’s so much potential for conflict?”
“The city needs to listen to the residents. They felt like they could just take the park and go about their business when the park is fully utilized.”
“We pushed the button to get you into office. We do matter. Our concerns are valid. The aldermen need to talk to the community and then take what we share with them back to the mayor.”
“You represent us. You just can’t go down there and make a decision. Then you become like a dictator. And I’ve got an issue with that.”
“We pay our taxes, and we have a right to have a park in our community. One that’s open to us.”
Retired health center case worker
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