Meet the black Chicago Democrats who SUED progressive mayor Brandon Johnson for housing


Two lawsuits by black Chicago residents have forced the city to abandon plans to use community buildings as migrant shelters.

Chicago is struggling to care for more than 35,000 asylum-seekers bussed in from the border by Texas Governor Greg Abbott over the past 18 months.

Shelters in converted warehouses are filled to the brim with new arrivals living in poor conditions, leading to the city commandeering other venues.

Among them was a field house at Amundsen Park, in Austin, where local youth are kept out of trouble playing football and kids go to daycare.

Residents were furious their neighborhood’s ‘crown jewel’ would be taken away to house migrants and after protests failed, a few tried something else.

Residents were furious their neighborhood's 'crown jewel', Amundsen Park, would be taken away to house migrants

Residents were furious their neighborhood’s ‘crown jewel’, Amundsen Park, would be taken away to house migrants

Cata Truss, a government employee and Democrat , and Gerald Harris, who coaches the teens in football at the park, sued the city with their neighbors last October

Cata Truss, a government employee and Democrat , and Gerald Harris, who coaches the teens in football at the park, sued the city with their neighbors last October

Cata Truss, a government employee and Democrat, and Gerald Harris, who coaches the teens in football at the park, sued the city with their neighbors last October.

Handwriting the lawsuit in a notebook, she argued the field house was ‘designated for recreational use within the community’ and nothing else.

Truss said she was also angry Mayor Brandon Johnson’s government shelled out more than $250 million caring for migrants when her community is in poverty.

‘There’s a humanitarian crisis in the black community. But every time we have a need in our community, we’re told that there are no funds. There’s no money for us,’ she told The Free Press.

About 28 per cent of the neighborhood lives below the poverty line, and residents complain funding to improve their lives is hard to come by.

Harris said with 70 percent of the teens he coached coming from households with a single mother, he was a ‘surrogate father’ to many of them and the neighborhood needed the football program.

Gerald Harris said with 70 per cent of the teens he coached coming from households with a single mother, he was a ‘ surrogate father’ to many of them and the neighborhood needed the football program the park supported

Harris was one of many residents who protested the new shelter, and when that didn't work, he sued

Harris was one of many residents who protested the new shelter, and when that didn’t work, he sued

Over on the South Side of Chicago, another successful lawsuit objected to an abandoned school being converted into a shelter.

J Darnell Jones, a DEI consultant and former US Navy officer, sued the city when he learned of the plans last May.

South Shore High School was closed for lack of funding years ago and the 94 per cent black neighborhood has long campaigned for it to become a community center.

Despite being such a staunch Democrat he supports reparations and ran for Congress in 2018, he said he was ‘disgusted’ it would be a shelter instead.

‘They’re giving the migrants all the things we’ve been asking for since we came here in chains,’ he said. 

‘The community has wanted this building back for so long, and now you want to use it in this way that would be harmful? There was no way we were going to stand for that.’ 

Jones claimed that despite his fellow Democratic mayor blaming Texas for sending the migrants, the border crisis was President Joe Biden‘s fault.

He and his neighbor, local public schools education activist Natasha Dunn, sued on similar grounds to Truss across town.

J Darnell Jones, a DEI consultant and former US Navy officer, sued the city when he learned of the plans to turn disused South Shore High School into a shelter last May

J Darnell Jones, a DEI consultant and former US Navy officer, sued the city when he learned of the plans to turn disused South Shore High School into a shelter last May

A community meeting opposing the shelter taking over Amundsen Park

A community meeting opposing the shelter taking over Amundsen Park

The two lawsuits are some of seven the city is facing over its plans to house migrants in Chicago neighborhoods.

Both appear to have been successful, as the city now says it has ‘no plans’ to convert either Amundsen Park or South Shore High School into shelters.

A third lawsuit by minority residents was by members of a Hispanic neighborhood in Brighton Park, but the shelter plan there was abandoned over ‘serious environmental concerns’. 

Chicago succeeded in converting disused schools into shelters elsewhere, however, including one in Washington Park, a neighborhood on the South Side where 94 per cent of residents are black.

Wadsworth Elementary School, which was shut down along with 50 other Chicago schools in 2013 due to lack of funding, now houses 600 migrants.

Andre Smith, a minister and another pro-reparations black local running for the Illinois House of Representatives as a Democrat, lives across the street.

‘I’ve been looking at these closed schools over and over again, that our children once went to, and that were closed due to a lack of funding. Now migrants are residing in those schools. It’s heartbreaking,’ he said.

So last February he and two other black men tried to stop a bus full of migrants being dropped off at the former school by standing in the way.

All three were arrested, but Smith said though he was afraid of what the police could have done to him, as a black man, he was prepared to go to jail.

‘I was not going to let them welcome the migrants into a place that they rejected our kids from,’ he said.

Chicago has spent more than $250 million million on the crisis that is only expected to get worse as temperatures drop as winter goes on

Chicago has spent more than $250 million million on the crisis that is only expected to get worse as temperatures drop as winter goes on

Mayor Johnson himself says the huge influx of migrants is unsustainable, but he can’t turn them away because Chicago is a ‘sanctuary city’.

He blamed both the Biden Administration and Texas for his city struggling to care for the about 15,000 asylum-seekers crammed into 28 shelters across the city.

Governor Abbott has sent more than 25,300 migrants to Chicago since August 2022, on buses.

Chicago tried to have them arrive at designated locations during business hours and impounding buses that didn’t follow these rules.

However, bus companies responded by dropping off migrants as far as 60 miles from Chicago, and Abbott started sending them on charter flights.

Conditions in Chicago’s migrant shelters have been under a microscope since five-year-old boy Jean Carlo Martinez Rivero died on December 17.

Johnson maintained there was ‘no evidence the condition of the shelter caused the death of this young boy’.

Five-year-old Jean Carlo Martinez Rivero fell ill while at the Pilsen migrant shelter and was pronounced dead on arrival in hospital days later

Five-year-old Jean Carlo Martinez Rivero fell ill while at the Pilsen migrant shelter and was pronounced dead on arrival in hospital days later

Volunteers who try to help the asylum-seekers as best they can argue differently, submitting lists of concerns to city officials months before Jean’s death.

Photos and videos inside the shelter where he died showed 2,300 migrants huddled together in freezing temperatures under a leaking roof.

One video showed a young boy with what appeared to be a bandage on his head lying on a thin fold-out bed, distracting himself with a tablet.

Another shows a different child coughing and crying as they had their temperature taken and were examined by volunteers.

A third video showed water leaking from the roof and pooling on one of the beds. 



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