Chicago Migrants

Ald. Julia Ramirez, aide battered during Brighton Park migrant housing site protest

NBC Universal, Inc.

Chicago Ald. Julia Ramirez was 'physically attacked' and had to be rushed from the scene of a protest against a proposed migrant housing facility in the Brighton Park neighborhood Thursday.

According to Chicago police, Ramirez and an aide arrived at the protest Thursday morning, but were quickly surrounded by protesters demonstrating against the proposed location of a tent-based structure to house migrants in the community.

Both Ramirez and an aide were battered by individuals in the crowd, according to Chicago police. Following the attack, officers shielded Ramirez from the protesters and brought her and the aide to a nearby squad car.

Ramirez declined medical attention after the incident, but a 21-year-old man was hospitalized in fair condition, according to Chicago police.

"After having a few conversations, it became clear that most of the protesters did not want to engage in a peaceful dialogue with me," Ramirez said in a statement. "It was truly a disappointing experience. As I was leaving the protest, a group of protestors surrounded me and my staffer and began assaulting us."

Ramirez says she is okay, but that her staffer was taken to a local hospital.

"I respect everyone's right to peacefully protest, however violence and hate is not the answer," she said.

Mayor Brandon Johnson condemned the battery in a statement Thursday morning.

“My administration supports the right to peaceful protest and free speech, but this type of action against a public servant is unconscionable,” he said. “Any violent act against an elected official in our city is unacceptable and must be condemned in the strongest terms.”

Ramirez, who represents the city’s 12th ward, told constituents over the weekend that the city is evaluating the Brighton Park site, with community meetings likely coming within days as the process continues.

"I’m gathering information from the mayor’s office about the city’s plan to open a temporary shelter on a privately-owned lot in Brighton Park,” she said.

If chosen, the privately-owned lot could house migrants that are currently living inside of police stations in Chicago, as well as the city’s two airports.

Piggybacking onto an existing state procurement, the city has signed a $29.3 million contract with GardaWorld Federal Services LLC for “migrant temporary housing.”

“The purpose of this Purchase Order is to allow the City to purchase from the State Contract temporary housing solutions and related services … to provide critical services to asylum seekers,” according to the contract.

Each tent would hold up to 12 cots, and would be outfitted with portable restrooms and makeshift kitchens, according to the proposal.

Chicago has received over 18,600 new arrivals since Aug. 2022, according to the latest numbers released by the city.

There are still 3,772 individuals awaiting placement in shelters, including more than 3,000 currently living in Chicago police facilities.

The plan to house migrants in the winterized tents has drawn criticism, both because of Chicago’s notorious winters but also because of the company’s reputation, with some lawmakers criticizing the company for bussing the migrants to Chicago.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Johnson has asked all 50 members of the City Council to identify sites in their wards for the housing, with just one-quarter of members providing the requested information.

MORE: U.S. grants temporary legal status to thousands of Venezuelans, permitting them to work

The contract mentions no specific sites for the base camps, and none has been chosen, according to mayoral press secretary Ronnie Reese.

In fact, the only specific site mentioned so far — 115th and Halsted streets — has faced opposition from local residents.

The contract also includes no specific timetable for erecting the tent cities.

“It’s got to be done pretty quickly if it’s gonna get done before the weather breaks,” Reese told the Sun-Times. “The goal is to decompress the police stations as soon as possible. We know that’s not sustainable.”

Below are renderings of what the tents could look like, provided by the City of Chicago:

Contact Us