A new chapter in Chicago's parking meter fiasco unfolds.
South Side community activists are protesting the addition of parking meters in front of their community center on South Commercial and have led a six-week protest, which now includes overnight vigils.
A petition to block the metters received about 1500 signatures, and community leaders presented it to John Pope, the 10th ward alderman. Pope told protesters he would think about it. After a week, Marta Perea, a coordinator for the protests, says the alderman decided to go ahead with the meters.
That’s when the community residents protested, outside Pope’s office, his home and the Chamber of Commerce. Perea says she had private meetings with Pope and was treated unprofessionally and eventually kicked out of his office.
“He’s supposed to be listening to his community,” says Perea.
Protesters are now standing atop the holes drilled to install the meters, preventing workers from affixing the meters to the sidewalk.
“Sometimes the parking meter people come, and we march along the spot and they take off,” says protester Robert Garcia.
Perea says the people she serves cannot afford the meter fees and will ultimately be forced to stop coming to the community center.
“It’s a really poor area and a lot of people come for food and if they have problems. It’s not just (people) in our immediate vicinity that come for help. There’s really nobody that offers the services we do,” says Perea.
The 10th ward alderman Pope and chamber of commerce officials could not be reached for comment.