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Cops remove activists protesting planned luxury high-rise at Weiss Hospital parking lot in Uptown

Protestors arranged their belongings on the sidewalk outside Weiss Hospital near the corner of North Clarendon and West Wilson avenues after being removed from the site of a planned luxury apartment building on Wednesday, August 31, 2022. (Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times)

Protestors who were occupying the site of a planned luxury apartment high-rise in Uptown were removed by police Wednesday, with some detained and issued citations, organizers and police said.

Activists had set up a camp last week in the former parking lot of Weiss Memorial Hospital near Clarendon and Wilson avenues in an effort to halt construction of the 12-story, 314-unit building. They want the city to deny permits for the project and instead provide more affordable housing for the area or expand the hospital.

Adam Gottlieb, of the Chicago Union of the Homeless, said he was one of three people who were issued citations for trespassing when police showed up Wednesday at their “community” and told them they had to vacate the space.

Adam Gottlieb, a musician and activist, meets with fellow a fellow organizer at the site of a planned luxury housing complex near the corner of North Clarendon and West Wilson avenue outside of the former Weiss Hospital on Wednesday, August 31, 2022. (Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times)

“This luxury development should not happen,” Gottlieb said. “The people of Uptown and the people of Chicago need access to housing and health care, and building luxury apartments and condos ... is not helping anyone.”

A fence was constructed around the lot after the camp was cleared. Activists attached signs with messages like “Housing for the People!” and “Keep Uptown Affordable” to the barrier. The tables, chairs and fold-up tents that made up the camp were instead arranged on the sidewalk.

Gottlieb said the camp was not only a protest but an example of what could be done with the space. Organizers provided food, water, shelter and even medical supplies. People made art, music and held various workshops.

“What we were doing here was showing just a little glimpse of what it might look like if we the people got to determine what this space was for and not some big hedge fund or national real estate developer,” Gottlieb said.

Marc Kaplan, one of the board of directors for the Northside Action for Justice, speaks to other organizers about the permits for construction of luxury housing near the corner of North Clarendon and West Wilson avenue outside of the former Weiss Hospital on Wednesday. (Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times)

Marc Kaplan, an organizer with Northside Action for Justice, said the planned apartment complex will cater to people without families, resulting in a loss of school population in the area. He also said the building will cause property taxes to rise and further increase gentrification.

“They’re not built for families,” Kaplan said of the apartments, adding that the rents would be too expensive for those with children. “We’ve lost thousands of families that have been pushed out of the neighborhood.”

Carol Contreras, 82, echoed Kaplan’s thoughts. “They’re not affordable for this area,” she said, adding that she considers herself lucky to be living in senior housing. Otherwise she wouldn’t be able to be close to Weiss, which is where she sees her primary care doctor.

“We’re very supportive of affordable housing, and it should be based on your income,” Contreras said. “American citizens, we have a right to fight for our rights, and this is what this is all about.

Carol Contreras sits at one of the tables set up with free items and information near the corner of North Clarendon and West Wilson avenue outside of the former Weiss Hospital on Wednesday, August 31, 2022. (Anthony Vazquez, Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times)
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