Carrying a large mock coffin and small candles in paper cups, more than 200 people marched through Uptown March 21 to protest what they said was the "death of diversity" in the neighborhood.
The protest was the latest in a string of actions against openly gay 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman.
Cappleman has been under fire in recent weeks for his stances on issues impacting poor and low income residents. Housing activists allege that Cappleman has failed to maintain affordable housing in the neighborhood like the Wilson Men's Club, which Cappleman wants to close, and the Chateau Hotel, a single-room occupancy hotel in Lakeview that is closing for redevelopment into market-rate apartments.
Cappleman, a licensed clinical social worker, said that both buildings are unsafe and that he wants residents to have better options.
The controversy hit a boiling point in early March after Salvation Army workers alleged that the Alderman banned their food truck from serving in the ward. Cappleman said that he never asked the truck to leave.
Lakeview Action Coalition (LAC) and the Organization of the NorthEast (ONE) had pressed Cappleman for a meeting March 21 on those issues but the alderman declined, and the groups protested instead.
Singing about gentrification and displacement, demonstrators marched in front of Cappleman's locked office and then through the streets past his Uptown home.
"Developers are buying up our land," they chanted. "So the people have to fight for another plan. Pushed out of Uptown."
Chateau resident Elizabeth Hartline called on Cappleman to use his power as alderman to keep her building affordable and prevent homelessness.
"I am being pushed out," she said.
Cappleman has said that he doesn't have the authority to force the hand of a private business owner and that he has made arrangement with the new owner to assist people in relocating.
He also said he has tried to address the concerns of LAC and ONE, but "they feel they have to hold another meeting," he said.
"We held a town hall meeting (February 27) and invited everyone to come, including ONE and LAC, but they never came and asked their questions," said Cappleman.