CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — As plans for the Barack Obama Presidential Center are being introduced to the Chicago City Council on Wednesday, voices are being raised over the South Side project.
The City Council’s Black Caucus lead by Alderman Roderick Sawyer gathered to congratulated the African American-owned companies that have been being selected to help build the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. But a loud group of protesters chanted that there needs to be a written agreement guaranteeing benefits for the surrounding community.
Demonstrators chanted “CBA” for Community Benefits Agreement, trying to drown out Alderman Leslie Hairston as she congratulated the companies she said the area does not need a written document guaranteeing the neighborhood will benefit.
“I think that we have enough people at the table and we are making sure that all of the things that they have asked for are being included. It’s already been done,” Hariston said.
Ald. Sawyer agreed with her.
“Why would we need a Community Benefits Agreement when these people live their lives right now based on access and benefiting the community,” he said.
But community activist Jitu Brown has serious doubts.
“We cannot take the President’s word on the fact that they are not going to push African Americans out with the Obama Presidential Center, so we are saying that there is no history that says their word is worth anything,” Brown said.
“Just because you are African American does not mean that you walk with the values of people that live in those communities. We are tired of people saying, ‘well I’m from the neighborhood,’ who is your allegiance to?
He and others fear some neighborhood people and businesses will be displaced.
The City Council’s consideration is just getting started.