Noisy Protests Promised for IOC Visit

Residents fear community disruption in 2016 plans

A coalition of community groups, angry over the city's failure to address what they called a "community benefits ordinance" for the Olympic games, says they are being left with little choice but to stage noisy and embarrassing demonstrations when the International Olympic Committee sends an inspection team to the city in two weeks.

"We will not allow our communities to be torn apart," said Gwen Nettles, of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization.  "We will not allow the IOC to think we want the Games, without a real benefits agreement."
The group appeared at Wednesday's City Council meeting to protest the failure of the council's Finance Committee to act on the proposed ordinance this week.  Backers of the ordinance had demanded that 30 percent of the proposed Olympic Village be converted to affordable housing after the Games, and that 50 percent of contracts be set aside for minority and women-owned companies.
Organizers of the coalition, known as Communities for an Equitable Olympics, say they fear displacement and gentrification in neighborhoods which will be the sites of proposed Olympic venues.

"It is time for Mayor Daley to stand for citizens," said Denise Dixon, of Action Now.  "We want to make sure that we get jobs that last beyond the 2016 Olympics!"

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, whose ward would contain the proposed Olympic Village, said she hoped the groups would be patient.  Preckwinkle predicted a final agreement would be reached before month's end.

Mayor Daley said he was not worried about the groups' threats.
"It is in Washington Park, in the park itself," he said.  "We're not displacing anyone."
The mayor suggested it would be premature to get too specific about who gets what, when the city doesn't even know if it will get the games.
"We don't have it.  We don't even have it!  Whatsoever!  This is not a sure thing.  Maybe people think it is!"
At the organizing committee for the 2016 games, spokesman Valerie Barker Waller said her group has been engaged in a dialogue with community groups from throughout the city.
"We have no understanding why they would feel left out.  They have been absolutely a part of the process," she said.  "They have been brought to the table to help, in fact, develop the recommendations that are going to be part of an agreement."
Waller said Chicago 2016 is committed to affordable housing, and that organizers believe the contracts to be awarded should be available to everyone.
Asked about the groups' threats to stage embarrassing demonstrations during the IOC's April visit, Mayor Daley shrugged and said, "Yeah.  It happens."

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