Neighbors in Chicago’s 48th Ward Launch IPO to Challenge Alderman Harry Osterman’s Policies

CHICAGO, IL — The 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice is announcing their launch as an independent political organization (IPO) with a press conference at 10:00 a.m. on August 24 in front of Alderman Harry Osterman’s office, 5533 N Broadway. 

“We’re starting an IPO in the 48th Ward because the people whose literal job it is to take care of us and represent our needs have failed us,” said Margo Gislain, co-chair of 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice. “We’re in the midst of a pandemic, national uprising, unemployment crisis, and on the cusp of the largest eviction crisis this country has ever seen.” 

To combat these forces, the IPO will center issues like housing, education, public safety, labor, and the environment in its struggle for justice. “Everyone should be able to take advantage of robust, fully funded public schools, plentiful housing options, and necessary social services, without fear of displacement or discrimination,” said Taylor Moore, steering committee member with 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice.

The press conference will stream on the IPO Facebook and Instagram pages and will center on the theme “We Keep Us Safe.” Leadership from the Oval Office all the way down to the alderman has continually failed to protect its most marginalized residents, so it is up to the people to provide for each other. Details of the IPO’s Labor Day event will be announced at the press conference. 

Over the last year, 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice has amassed the political power of working-class residents across differences in race, ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic status. On June 25, in collaboration with Northside Action for Justice, the group organized a march of 500 people in the 48th and 46th Wards to push Alderman Osterman and Alderman James Cappleman to meet the demands of Black Lives Matter, which include defunding police and gaining community control of the police through the CPAC ordinance. 

The organization has also hosted several community town halls on policing and the pandemic response of local representatives, supported protests organized by Edgewater Mutual Aid Network surrounding racist housing discrimination, led silent protests at all nine outdoors office hours events hosted by Alderman Osterman’s office, and provided jail support for protestors arrested during the uprisings.

“We want to create a community organization firmly based within principles of radical solidarity,” said Gislain. “We want to be an organization that centers joy in our fight, and that brings in people of all backgrounds to fight for the justice we all deserve.” 

In early 2019, the founding members of the IPO organized around  #NoCopAcademy, the creation of a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), and affordable housing in the ward. Frustrated by Alderman Osterman’s half-measure policies and stunning disengagement with his working-class constituents, residents formed the IPO to combine their efforts. As public awareness of police brutality grows, access to housing deteriorates, and civic welfare budgets disappear, the budding IPO has grown from a group of 4 neighbors to 200 over the course of a year.

48th Ward Neighbors for Justice represents a broad coalition of 48th Ward residents. Many are current or former organizers with Chicago Teachers Union, Democratic Socialists of America, The People’s Lobby, Network 49, ONE Northside, the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and other grassroots organizations. Members have worked or volunteered on political campaigns, such as Bernie Sanders for President, Maria Hadden for 49th Ward Alderwoman, and Byron Sigcho-Lopez for 25th Ward Alderman, and issue-based campaigns, such as Lift the Ban Coalition and Democratize ComEd.

“By organizing within this IPO, we continue a rich tradition of Chicagoan grassroots organizing that fights against overtly antagonistic political forces to unite the beautiful tapestry of Chicago’s residents,” said Andrew Carr, secretary of 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice.

The 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice will continue to organize, now in an official capacity, in an effort to combat Ald. Osterman’s faux-progressive lip service and push the alderman towards enacting the real change that the people are calling for in this historic moment. In doing so, the IPO hopes to create a platform which the neighborhood can unite under and which, through its work as an individual organization and through collaboration with other grassroots organizations, will create radical and meaningful change for our beautiful city.

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