Broken Community

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsA broken community stood outside of what was once Whittier Elementary La Casita community center and library after demolition took place in the early morning hours of Saturday, to hold a vigil for a center that once housed resources for hundreds of low-income families.

“Alderman Solis and Chicago Public Schools have broken every commitment they have ever made to this community,” said Gema Gaete, a Whittier community member. “We demand a new fieldhouse. The community will not stand by and let them turn Whittier’s land into a playground for private school kids. The Mayor and Alderman Solis are engaged in ethnic cleansing, trying to push low-income Latino students out of this neighborhood.”

Last Saturday, a demolition crew arrived unannounced at Whittier, 23rd and Damen, with orders to demolish the fieldhouse, an order that was given the okay by Alderman Daniel Solis and Chicago Public School Board. Some parents staged an overnight protest, attempting to stop the destruction of La Casita which resulted in a several arrests. At least eight people were arrested and are being held at the District 10 police station.

Back in 2010, residents, including Gaete, staged a 43 day sit-in to turn the unused fieldhouse at Whittier Elementary into La Casita community center and library. Gaete, along with other families, are urging Ald. Solis to hold a community meeting to discuss future plans for the empty lot that sits next to Whittier Elementary School. They have yet to hear back from the alderman.

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