CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago police arrested several protesters who chained themselves to fences on the University of Chicago campus, during a rally demanding a “community benefits agreement” as part of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, to protect South Side homeowners.
Dozens of activists showed up at a rally calling for a written agreement to protect local homeowners from being displaced by higher property taxes once the $500 million Obama Presidential Center is complete.
Parrish Brown, an activist with Black Youth Project 100 and Obama CBA Coalition, said they support the Obama Center, but want to make sure people who live in the area aren’t forced to move out if property taxes go up.
“It’s a beautiful thing, but we want to make sure that South Side residents aren’t displaced from the South Side of Chicago,” Brown said.
After marching from Hyde Park High School — across the street from the planned site of the Obama Center — to the University of Chicago campus, several activists chained themselves to fences at construction site for the university’s Woodlawn Residential Commons. The University of Chicago was behind the winning bid for the Obama Presidential Center.
Last week, the Chicago City Council gave final local approval to the center. The city has said it will monitor property values in the surrounding South Side neighborhoods, but has refused to put those promises into a formal community benefits agreement.
Activists have demanded a community benefits agreement before the Obama Center is built, to protect homeowners and taxpayers from issues like higher housing costs as a result of the project.
The Obama Foundation still faces a federal lawsuit seeking to block construction of the center in Jackson Park. The federal government also is reviewing the project, because Jackson Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.