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Riot Fest protesters make final demand to block Douglass Park show ahead of Park District decision

LAWNDALE NORTH. ~ The West Siders gathered in Douglass Park on Monday in a last-ditch effort to convince the Chicago Park District not to allow the controversial festival ahead of a vote this week. Riot Fest and other public activities occupying park space have frustrated neighbors at 1850 S. Albany Ave. The Cure, Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age will headline Riot Fest from September 15-17, drawing 50,000 people to the park daily. At its 11 a.m. Wednesday meeting at Brighton Park Community Campus, 4830 S. Western Ave., the Park District Board will vote on “interim approval” of festival permits. “They push profit on people, profit on health care, and security on access to a safe and prosperous community park for people,” Joanna Tess said. Riot Fest is unhealthy for Douglass Park.

Florina Flores said Riot Fest and other big festivals have exploited the community for years and ignored objections. As many West Siders have banded together to disrupt Riot Fest – two other Douglass Park music festivals moved last year – the issue has become more contentious and divisive among communities. On Monday, neighbors who wanted the festival to move complained of noise, disruption to surrounding businesses, damage to park grounds, displacement of youth sports teams, people urinating and trashing the streets, risk to the safety of large crowds and how increased traffic affects access to nearby hospitals. .

These changes include moving speakers away from hospitals and homes, closing some features of the park to the public, hiring three artists from North Lawndale to perform, and using a parking lot farther from the park. to avoid hospital traffic. Riot Fest organizers have brought in $14 million in revenue since 2015, including city taxes, park district rental fees and local jobs. Community members supported. It’s annoying and disturbing. “So many people have to go to the hospital with serious emergencies,” Flores said. “That wouldn’t happen in a predominantly white neighborhood.” Riot Fest Director of Community Engagement George Herrera and other organizers discussed improving festival operations and investing in Douglass Park during a virtual meeting last week.

Last month, Ald. Monique Scott (24th) supported the event for economic reasons. The Douglass Park Advisory Council, North Lawndale Eagles Football Club, Little Village Foundation, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Chicago West Community Music Center support the festival. After meeting with Herrera and other organizations in North Lawndale and Little Village, activists like Hector Escobar now support the festival. Escobar said Riot Fest organizers are trying to engage the community for the first time. Protesters alleged that last week’s meeting was arrogant and limited input from neighbors. “They had years to justify their presence, and they had nothing to justify why they should be in this park,” neighbor Denise Ferguson said. “The meeting was about promises, not about health and safety.”

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