Chicago Migrants

Johnson issues statement after Chicago alderwoman assaulted during migrant tent camp protest

An aide was also battered, and was transported to a local hospital

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Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson on Thursday in a statement called the physical attack on 12th Ward Ald. Julia Ramirez during a migrant camp protest "unconscionable."

“I learned today that an alderwoman and an aide, while attempting to meet with constituents, were victims of a physical attack by area residents," the statement said. "My administration supports the right to peaceful protest and free speech, but this type of action against a public servant is unconscionable. "

Johnson added that the "physical attack" is being investigated by his office and by police.

The battery occurred Thursday morning at a protest in the 3800 block of South California in the Brighton Park neighborhood Dozens had gathered amid the city’s evaluation of the vacant lot as a potential site for a “tent city” to house migrants that have been bused to Chicago from places like Texas and Florida.

Video showed protesters following Ramirez and her aide, and yelling at her. Police officers escorted her into a squad car and pushed back protesters, the video showed.

Ramirez said that she and her aide attended the event at the request of protesters, but were quickly assaulted and battered after their arrival. The aide was hospitalized in fair condition after the incident, with Ramirez declining medical attention, according to Chicago police.

No arrests were reported.

Thursday afternoon, Ramirez issued a statement on the events:

“Today my staff and I went to meet with 12th Ward residents protesting Mayor Johnson’s plan to construct a temporary shelter for migrants at 38th and California. Residents contacted my office this week and asked that I attend to hear their concerns. I wanted to engage directly with my community to address misinformation being spread about my involvement in the plan, and how we should move forward as a community.

“After having a few conversations, it became clear that most of the protesters did not want to engage in peaceful dialogue with me. It was truly a disappointing experience.

“As I was leaving the protest, a group of protesters surrounded me and my staffer and began assaulting us. Fortunately I’m okay, however my staffer was taken to the hospital and is in good condition.

“I understand residents are fearful and have concerns about the city’s plan. I have the same concerns. I’m a born and raised resident of Brighton Park. I ran for Alderwoman so that I could be in a position to address the years of disinvestment in my community. I hear my residents and want them to know I will always advocate for their safety and ensure our communities have the resources they deserve. I also respect everyone’s right to peacefully protest, however violence and hate is not the answer.

“I hope to continue to build bridges across the different communities in the 12th Ward as we address this crisis in a humane and compassionate way. Brighton Park should be a welcoming community to both existing residents and new arrivals.

“I call on the mayor’s office for more transparency, accountability and more local involvement in the decision-making process, to explore more options for establishing the permanent shelters, and reevaluate if tents are an appropriate solution at this site.”

Ramirez said that the site is still being evaluated, leading to dozens of protesters gathering to push back against the plan.

What to know about the proposed tent camps

Johnson has planned to open giant tent cities he calls “winterized base camps” to get more than 3,700 migrants off police station and airport floors before temperatures plummet. One of the proposed locations is an abandoned industrial site in Brighton Park at 38th and California. The city has refused to identify other potential sites, for fear of stirring up opposition.

Another potential site is at 115th and Halsted Street in Morgan Park.

Residents across Chicago have resisted plans to move migrants into tents and other shelters, often during tense community meetings. Earlier this month, the city paused a plan to use Amundsen Park on the West Side to house asylum-seekers after intense pushback from residents.

Domingo Diaz, who can see the potential Brighton Park site from the rear garage of his bungalow on 38th Street, said he’s seen construction crews laying pipes for sewage.

Diaz, an immigrant from Mexico, said he understands the plight of new arrivals but worried about putting so many of them — 500 to 1,000, according to Johnson — in his backyard without a clear plan for their permanent resettlement.

“I’ve been hearing that some have been causing some problems around the city,” Diaz said. “Of course, there are good people among them, but there’s also bad people, and we don’t know which ones will be here.”

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