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Political feud escalates between Lightfoot and Ja’Mal Green

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a new reason for bricking the $ 15 million youth center that community activist Ja’Mal Green is trying to build in Auburn-Gresham.

Planning and Development Commissioner Maurice Cox now cites Green’s open criticism of the mayor’s plan to build Chicago’s first new Boys & Girls Club in a generation on the campus of the Police and Fire Brigade Training Academy in West Garfield Park.

Green was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times in May saying that Lightfoot’s decision to lease 20,000 square feet of land to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago was a “slap in the face” for black youth.

The $ 1 per year lease for 75 years “refines a plan that is doomed to fail” and refers to the controversial training facility. Green noted that “the real investment goes to the police”.

On the same day, Green emailed Cox for his tour of the Auburn-Gresham site at 8407 S. Kerfoot Ave Leisure Center, which is geared towards helping young people avoid becoming perpetrators or victims of gang violence .

Cox replied that he would be happy to continue the dialogue we began at Auburn-Gresham, if only Green would learn to shut up.

“Your comments only … undermined another potential partner [the Boys & Girls Club] in your youth endeavors, ”wrote Cox.

“Before I try to get involved, you need to find out if your calling is to work with the public sector or if you are content to just criticize publicly. Let me know.”

The former Garrett A. Morgan Elementary School, 8407 S. Kerfoot Ave., was one of 50 Chicago public schools that closed in 2013. Ja’Mal Green is part of an effort to acquire the land, demolish the school and build a new youth center. Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

Green stood firm.

“Comments from ME should NOT affect what is best for the community. Are we playing politics here or do we want to save the youth? Please let me know, ”Green wrote.

“If the city were to move faster on our project, my comments would simply relate to the project we are trying to build!”

Green was a mayoral challenger himself before dropping out, supporting Lightfoot through Cook County’s chairman Toni Preckwinkle in the April 2019 runoff election.

But it wasn’t long before Green publicly criticized Lightfoot.

The first public hiatus came when Lightfoot proclaimed the $ 95 million Police and Fire Education Academy, which Green and others described as a symbol of Rahm Emanuel’s misguided spending priorities, a “finished deal.” In fact, Lightfoot said the project was bigger, better, and undoubtedly more expensive.

It was followed by Green, who slammed Lightfoot’s election of David Brown as superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, as well as what Green saw as the rough treatment of protesters by CPD officials during the civil unrest last summer.

Green also slammed Lightfoot’s decision to seal off downtown by raising the bridges after the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd turned into two devastating rounds of looting.

But the very personal and seemingly final straw for Lightfoot came last month when the mayor took to Twitter to shoot down what she called “homophobic, racist and misogynistic rumors” about her own personal life.

In a now-deleted tweet for which he apologized, Green stated, “Lori Lightfoot is stepping down tomorrow in a stunning end of her mayor’s office.”

Last month, the mayor’s office responded to Green’s political retaliation claim by saying that Lightfoot “ran into a number of systems where people who screamed the loudest were silenced with payouts,” and that Green apparently “did Memo didn’t get “.

“There are no abbreviations or special treatments when it comes to the use of public funds or public property. Period. The mayor and her team have made this clear to Mr. Green again and again, ”said the mayor’s office.

The Police and Fire Brigade Training Academy under construction on the 4400 block of West Chicago Avenue has drawn opposition from Chance the Rapper, college students in Chicago and across the country, and local youth organized under the hashtag #NoCopAcademy drawn.

During countless protests, they argued that the money should be better spent on mental health and recreational and educational programs for young people.

Last month, Lightfoot and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago responded to these demands, but in a way that infuriated the #NopAcademy movement.

Destiny Harris, a youth organizer for the campaign, said a new boys and girls club in Chicago was a “nice thing” – but not on the academy’s premises are young people trying so hard to stop it.

“This is purely a PR campaign. It is the mayor who is trying to make this project more palatable, so that when the youth of the NoCopAcademy say, ‘No, we don’t want this police academy. This is not the best use of $ 95 million that we actually look like the bad people, “Harris said.

“Police officers don’t make black children feel safe. … How can you expect black and brown children to come into this room and feel comfortable? “

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