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La Casita visits the alderman... Waiting for Danny Solis

Susan Notes:

Ohanian Comment: Talk to George Schmidt of Substance about La Casita and you will learn of this group's connections to the fight of justice in the neighborhood, in Chicago, in Mexico, in Allende's Chile, and so on. George observes that some of grandmothers fighting for the library learned to speak English in that very building.

Teachers could learn a lot from these smart, tough parents. It looks like politico Solis had to write that letter 4 times.
from the Solidarity with Whittier Parents' Struggle! Facebook page.

Oct. 8, Subject: Update from Carolina

Good afternoon queridos. . .

Jose Alvarez brought this generic letter from Ron Huberman that basically stated that they would temporarily stop the Demolition for 6 months.... as you can expect that letter was torn in his face and told we don't except this. He didn't leave till he hand wrote a letter that stated he committed to setting up a meeting with Alderman Solis, the Whittier parents and Huberman (even better than what Solis offered) to come up with a resolution to the problem. . . .

Friday: finally accepted Alderman Solis letter of support after 4 attempts .......

And then there are the volunteer librarians from Chicago Underground Librarians help people at La Casita.

David Vance

In the month since Whittier Elementary School parents occupied the field house in their school lot and demanded that it be converted into a library for the school's children, much has happened. The occupation of the small building, which began on the night of September 14 - 15 2010, has now become national news. Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman, who pushed to have the field house (now dubbed "La Casita") demolished to make way for a private school soccer field development, has let it be know he would be leaving his post when Daley exits as Mayor early next year. Nearly one month after the beginning of the occupation, Huberman has still refused to visit the parents and explain why Whittier (and 159 other Chicago public schools) can't have a real library for their children.

Nearly three weeks after parents began their sit-in to save the field house outside Chicago's Whittier Elementary School, a library was being born inside the building. By October 5, 2010, when the photo above was taken, the parents were considering whether to ask that donations be postponed for a time because so many books were coming in. Books are cleaned and catalogued every day by volunteer librarians from Chicago Underground Librarians and by students and teachers. Although officials of Chicago Public Schools continue to claim that the building is "unsafe," as the above photo shows, the building has been made welcoming by the work of the community. CPS claims that they have an "engineer's report" regarding the safety of the building have never been verified, and like many claims made by CPS officials have been proved to be lies when checked against the facts. Substance photographed the inside of La Casita on four occasions between September 17 (when CPS almost had police arrest the protesters) and October 6, and at every point it was clear that La Casita only needed a new roof to continue into its second century of use by members of the community and children from the adjacent school. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The struggle escalated both in the media and politically in October. The Illinois (General Assembly) Facilities Task force (which includes members of both the Illinois House and Illinois Senate) asked the Chicago Board of Education to postpone the demolition of La Casita. Then the Chicago City Council voted in support of La Casita.

Following mounting frustrations with fictitious "support" from their local alderman, the parents decided to try another visit to powerful Alderman Danny Solis, who began his career as a community organizer. A new Labor Beat video documents a march from the occupied field house (turned into a library by the parents and community) to the offices of Alderman Danny Solis.

Following their protest, La Casita leaders have received signals that Solis has changed his tune. On the national battlefield to defend the public sector, this important struggle in an Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago shows the working class beginning to take control in a clearly concrete way.

This 13:20 minute video, La Casita Visits the Alderman is part of the ongoing community media coverage of the struggle for La Casita.

For additional information on Labor Beat and to view more videos about the struggles of working people in Chicago, contact: mail@laborbeat.org, www.laborbeat.org. 312-226-3330. For other Labor Beat videos, visit Google Video, YouTube, or blip.tv and search "Labor Beat".

— David Vance



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