On Tuesday, July 12, 49th Ward alderman Joe Moore welcomed gardening and floral aficionados to his home for the Rogers Park Garden Group‘s annual fund-raiser. But ten uninvited housing activists showed up as well. They stood outside his house silently, holding an outstretched banner that read: “1,000s of Homeless Families are Trying to Blossom: Don’t Weed Them Out.”
The activists were from a coalition of groups, including the Chicago Housing Initiative, the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, ONE Northside, and Access Living’s Disability Rights Action Coalition for Housing. They had come to protest Moore’s refusal to call a vote on an ordinance that would give the City Council oversight of the Chicago Housing Authority and mandate greater accountability for the agency.
Moore soon exited his home and confronted the activists. In a video obtained by the Reader, Moore can be heard threatening to shelve the housing ordinance in question.
“You can stand here as long as you want. That’s your First Amendment right,” he says. “However, since you’ve chosen my home to do your demonstration, I have chosen that—to decide that—that ordinance is never going to come out of my committee as long as I’m chair. You got that?”
As chair of the committee on housing and real estate, Moore has the ability to delay a vote on the ordinance indefinitely.
Moore’s office did not respond to requests for comment about the video.
Activists have protested Moore several times in recent weeks, renewing a campaign for housing reform that had all but fallen by the wayside after a 11-hour February hearing in which no vote was called on the “Keeping the Promise” ordinance.
They also attempted to confront Moore outside a Rogers Park Jewel-Osco where the alderman was scheduled to conduct satellite office hours on Saturday, July 23.
When activists arrived they found that the event had been canceled, according to ONE Northside’s Vivien Tsou. Normally, Tsou says, the alderman’s office would send out an e-mail announcing a cancellation, but there was no message sent out on Saturday.
Moore’s chief of staff Kevin O’Neil said in an e-mail that Moore had canceled because he “had out of town guests visiting” that day and had not known about the planned protest.
Activists plan “to reconvene as a coalition to figure out next steps,” says Tsou.
They have at least a week to do so; Moore is in Philadelphia this week attending the Democratic National Convention.