Hermosa

Community Devastated, Enraged After Chicago Playground Burns Down in Apparent Arson

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Parents and students are devastated and outraged after a playground in Chicago’s Hermosa neighborhood, paid for by a donation drive and activism on the part of community members, burned to the ground this week.

Those looking to enjoy the playground, located at William P. Nixon Elementary, were met with crime scene tape and the charred remains of a playground on Wednesday, the acrid smell still lingering in the air.

“I feel sad, because the kids might not be able to play outside,” student Carolyn Duarte said.

Parents and students are both sad and outraged by the crime, which is being investigated as an arson.

“My heart is broken, because I have my girls in here and they ‘oh ma, what do I do now,’” parent Briceyra Zermeno said.

“My friend said ‘we feel sad about the park. We didn’t like when the park burned because I was playing at this park,’” student Aidelyn Diaz added.

Police say that surveillance footage at the school may have shown a person starting a fire at approximately 6 p.m. Tuesday night. No suspects have been taken into custody at this time.

The crime is even harder to stomach because of how much work went into raising the funds to build the playground. According to parents, a community group fundraised tends of thousands of dollars just three years ago to build the park, and now they’re back to square one, lacking a safe and nice play for children to play.

“I just couldn’t believe all that work that the community put in,” mother Alma Kreuser said. “They are going to grow up thinking ‘oh no, it’s okay to behave that way.’ As a parent, I don’t want to see that. I want something better for this school.”

A community meeting will take place Thursday to determine next steps. Meanwhile, Chicago Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa has promised $100,000 in so-called “menu funds,” given to each member of Chicago’s City Council, and is spearheading a drive for additional funds both from the public and from Chicago Public Schools to rebuild the playground.

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